REVIEW: EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE (Sheffield Crucible Theatre) ★★★★★

Inspired by the BBC3 documentary ‘Drag queen at 16’, Everybody’s talking about Jamie takes a glimpse into the world of Jamie New, a 16 year old Sheffield lad with a desire for sequins and mascara rather than steel and soot. Charting Jamie’s progress from his first pair of heels to his appearance as the boy in the dress who was born to impress at his high school prom.

The world premiere of this new musical, teams The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie Sells, Doctor Who writer, Tom MacRae and West end and Broadway director, Jonathan Butterell with the Sheffield Theatres production team, and what a combination that is.

Dan Gillespie Sells’ soundtrack is pure brilliance. An excellent mix of upbeat, incredibly catchy pop numbers, such as show opener ‘And you don’t even know it’, and poignantly beautiful ballads, ‘Wall in my head’ and ‘He’s my boy’.

Tom MacRae’s book is simply outstanding, the right amount of campy hilarity perfectly blended with real and painful, heartbreak. As a local lad, the references to Sheffield and it’s ‘landmarks’ (excuse my artistic license) are on point and really make the show for me. Hats off to the cast and dialect coach as well, the accents were ‘reyt’ good.

You may know that The Crucible is quite a unique venue, the world renowned snooker hall also doubles as an incredibly intimate performance venue, the space being ‘nearly’ in the round was perfect to show off the heart and soul of this show and the direction and staging really took this on board, utilising the space magnificently. The choreography was excellent, expertly continuing the story through some perfectly co-ordinated vogueing.

Jamie is played by John McCrea and boy did he play it well, especially with the height of those stilettos. Supported by Josie Walker as Jamie’s mum, Margaret, Lucie Shorthouse as Jamie’s best friend Pritti and Charles Dale as Jamie’s drag mother and retired drag queen Hugo Battersby/ Loco Chanel. Truthfully the entire cast were just fantastic and served the story so well. Mina Anwar’s Lee was an absolute scene stealer and had the entire audience in stitches.

The show ends its run on the 25th February though I sure hope it isn’t the last we see of it, rumours of a tour are abound and I do hope they are true. If you can get to Sheffield to see this remarkable piece of art in the meantime, please do. It does not fail to impress.

Reviewed by James Rew
Photo: Johan Persson