Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Review – Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Image Source: British Theatre

Show: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Date: Tuesday November 23 2021
Running Time: 160 Minutes
Age Rating: 14+
Performers: Layton Williams, Amy Ellen Richardson, Bianca Del Rio and Shobna Gulati
Production Company: Sheffield Theatres
Writer: Tom MacRae
Director: Jonathan Butterell

This is our review for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Liverpool‘s Empire Theatre. So, let’s take a look at Everybody’s Talking About Jamie!

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Background

Funny, fabulous and feel-good, this show is a musical sensation for all the family and truly unmissable! Now, Jamie New is 16 years old and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. However, he doesn’t quite fit in and worries greatly about the future. And yet Jamie is going to be a sensation. With the support of his loving mother and his friends, he manages to overcome the prejudice. By doing so, Jamie defeats the bullies and steps away from the darkness into the spotlight. So, this musical will have everybody talking about Jamie for many years to come. And just remember: at age sixteen, you can be on the edge of possibility. And it’s time to make your dreams come true

Analysis

“A drag queen is someone to be feared!” but not in that way. She’s fierce, yet loving. It may be cliché but there really was a whole lot of love in the Liverpool Empire last night as everyone really was talking about Jamie.

In a nutshell, based on a true story the show is a lesson in acceptance. It’s the tale of one boy’s journey to realising not just his dreams, but who he really is. Debuting in Sheffield in 2017, where the show is set, you can easily see just why it transferred to the West end that same year and started touring the UK last year. This is a powerful show and it would be easy to take such a timely story and set it to a mediocre soundtrack and trot it out with a load of sequins and flashy lights. That would sell tickets just fine.

Not this show. This is a beautifully crafted musical, jam-packed with great songs. As the cast were taking their bows last night, I was trying my hardest to think of a show I’ve seen in recent years that ticks so many boxes. Great songs, check! Strong cast, check! Entertaining and meaningful dialogue not just filling in the bits between the singing, double check!

The cast on this UK tour are strong, and I mean STRONG! Opening up to a school room set it’s a real punch to the senses how well drilled the ensemble were. Every movement perfect, no one person drawing the eye because they’re ahead or behind and the vocals full and pitch-perfect. Kate Prince’s choreography is modern, yet classic and fits so will with the opening number, ‘And You Don’t Even Know It’. In fact the choreo is great throughout. Hints of Vogue with a good helping of lyrical.

The dance duet accompanying ‘If I Met Myself Again’ was just so beautiful and powerful. Sung by Amy Ellen Richardson, playing Jamie’s Mum, Margaret New, it was so very dream-like. Richardson also sung the stand out number for me, ‘He’s My Boy’. Effortless and yet so very powerful, the strength in her range allows you to sit back and enjoy, know you’re in good hands.

Other stand out performances were Sharan Phull as Jamie’s best friend, Pritti Pasha. Casting an unassuming figure in her hijab, the future medical student is Jamie’s confidant and one of his biggest fans. However, when she first takes a solo, stand back, she’s an absolute pocket rocket!

Roy Haylock (AKA Bianca Del Rio) resumed his part for a select few venues on this tour and I’m personally so happy to have seen him. Sounds strange, ‘him’. My favourite of all the Drag Race queens, I was so excited to see Bianca and she didn’t disappoint. First appearing as Hugo in his shop, Victor’s Secret (love it), there’s a smattering around the audience as a few of us recognise the queen de-dragged.

However, when she returns later on in the show as Hugo’s alter-ego, Loco Chanelle, the crowd see Bianca Del Rio and the roof of the Empire lifts off. It’s not like we haven’t been entertained so far, the show is brilliant, but there’s so much love for Del Rio and the crowd want to show it. The amount of times Haylock is in and out of drag in the show, you can imagine the ‘quick drag’ going on backstage!

Shobna Gulati was such a great support in the role of Ray, Jamie’s Mum’s close friend and one of those ‘not real auntie’s/friend of the family’s’. She embodied the ferocity the real-life Ray must have had in her unwavering championing of Jamie, taking the place of his ever-absent father.

And finally Layton Williams as Jamie. Just sublime. Williams clearly knows the part and lives every fibre, stich, sequin and lash. In the beginning of the show, he’s almost shy as if to convey Jamie’s uncertainty of himself and who society will ‘let’ him be. The timid vocal almost lost in the surroundings. However, once that confidence begins to grow and Mimi Me is born, she belts out like the best of ‘em.

Summary

This is story of tolerance, love, struggle and yet most importantly, truth. Truth in knowing who you want to be and just being it. And allowing others to do the same. A great story of our time, coming at just the right time and after a period in which we’ve all been forced to lock down and bide our time, it’s the feel-good riot we need, right now!

Notes

Target Audience – 14+

Content – Strong language and mild sexual references

Recommendation – Yes

Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Further Links

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie runs at the Empire Theatre from Tuesday November 23 to Saturday November 27 2021. So, to purchase tickets, please click here.

For more information about this show, click here.

Did you see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie? Let us know by leaving a comment below!