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Review: EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE, New Wimbledon Theatre

The vibrant touring production of the true story of a teenage drag queen still fizzes with energy

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Everybody's Talking About JamieBack in 2017, few could have imagined the success of a show about a teenage drag queen. Ever since it blasted its way onto the stage in 2017, Everybody's Talking About Jamie has been a sensation here and as far away as Japan. Now on a nationwide tour, the true-life story of a 16-year-old wannabe drag queen is still as entertaining and relevant as ever.

Taking over from Layton Williams for some performances, Adam Taylor takes a while to warm up as Jamie. For the first part of the opening act, his voice sounds rather weak at points and his dance moves are not as sharp as they could be. However, he develops into a vibrant Jamie. He makes the character lovable and very believable; from self-absorbed teenage strops, to showing a sassy attitude, hiding his feelings of being deeply ugly.

Amy Ellen Richardson is the real heart of the show as Margaret, Jamie's mother. Jamie feels both her love and reassurance; his queerness is never a problem, but his difference is to be celebrated. Richardson's voice has a lovely clarity and her rendition of "He's My Boy" is a standout; growing in tenderness and heartfelt emotion as it progresses.

There is strong support with Sasha Latoya as a very witty Ray, Lara Denning as a world-weary Miss Hedge, and Sharan Phull as an incredibly assured and intelligent Pritti. Phull's version of "It Means Beautiful" is wonderfully compassionate and warm.

The bad guys of the show remain underused pantomime villains; Cameron Johnson is suitably horrible as Jamie's dad and George Sampson is truly nasty as school bully Dean Paxton, but both roles would benefit from being less one-dimensional.

Shane Richie is the star draw as shop owner and drag queen Hugo/Loco Chanelle. Richie needs stronger stage presence as Chanelle, but shows nuance as Hugo; displaying the character's internal anxiety and quiet, underlying kindness.

Lyricist Tom MacRae and composer Dan Gillespie Sells' soundtrack may now be familiar to crowds of musical theatre fans, but it is reassuring to see that the score still hits the mark with fun, frothy and incredibly catchy tracks, such as the opening "And You Don't Even Know It". It also retains a deeply emotional core, tugging on the heartstrings with the beautiful ballads. However, on press night, the volume needed to be turned up to appreciate the snappy lines from the ensemble.

Tour director Matt Ryan has made some subtle updates to the production. The Covid-related comedy is well-pitched and there are some clever asides about Meghan Markle and Kim Kardashian.

The show retains a joyful energy with Kate Prince's sharp choreography; the diverse emsemble is lithe and dynamic and there are snappy and exuberant performances. Anna Fleischle's clever design allows the scenes to morph seamlessly and has not been compromised for the tour.

This is not a perfect version of this brilliant musical, but it is still a joy to watch a production about love, identity and acceptance that never feels melodramatic or preachy.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is at New Wimbledon Theatre until 9 April, then touring

Photo Credit: Johan Persson

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