EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE Rehearsals Are In Full Swing
After receiving rave reviews during its run at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre, new musical Everyone's Talking About Jamie is making the final preparations for its transfer to the Apollo Theatre in November. Broadway World UK was incredibly excited to get an early preview into how rehearsals are going for what is expected to be a new hit West End show.
The critically acclaimed story follows Jamie Campbell, an aspiring drag queen, who wants to go to his school prom in drag. Inspired by BBC documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, director Jonathan Butterell teamed up with The Feeling frontman Dan Gillespie Sells and writer Tom MacRae to produce a uniquely British musical, packed with humour, pathos and fantastic songs.
Jonathan Butterell is clearly passionate about the production. "It's about inclusivity," he says, referring to the struggles that Jamie has to find himself. "It's about how we look for our place in the world. We've all been that 16-year-old kid; this is the heart of the story. We all have our own versions of I would, I wish, I hope."
Butterell is also very keen to bring the theatrical experience to new audiences. He realised that in his hometown of Sheffield, where the play is set, the community does not generally go to the theatre, but they do identify with pop music. As word of the Crucible production spread, he became aware that 35% of the audience were new to the theatre "so the whole pop music element is really important to me".
Nimax Theatres, who own the Apollo, are equally energised, Commercial Director Laurence Miller praising the writers in particular. "We're really excited about this show," he says "especially having a brand new writing team in their late thirties and early forties. Apart from Tim Minchin, most writers are in their fifties and sixties. It makes a real difference: a fresh voice and an exciting piece."
Writers Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae still seem a little surprised at the success of the show in Sheffield and the current buzz surrounding the London transfer. Gillespie Sells says that it's emotional seeing his music taken on by such a talented group of performers. "I sometimes get quite tearful as it's so extraordinary," he confesses. "When you write a song and see it performed, they take it to a level you didn't imagine."
MacRae believes there is something unique about the production. "There's nothing out there like it. There's every emotion in there and you leave like you've been though an emotional carwash, but shining at the end."
Both men have been credited with creating a pop musical that fizzes with life. Certainly the energy of the rehearsals felt infectious. Most of the original Sheffield cast reprise their roles, including the fantastic John McCrea as Jamie and Luci Shorthouse as his best friend Pritti. A sneak peak at her ballad "Beautiful" was spine-chillingly lovely.
If this is what the cast is producing in only their second week of rehearsals, London is in for a treat.