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Guest Blog: Matthew Seaman Chats The JAMIE Community

The founder of the online Everyone’s Talking About Jamie fan community shares the group’s journey

Guest Blog: Matthew Seaman Chats The JAMIE Community
Matthew Seaman (front left) with
members of the Jamie community
and Jamie Campbell

Everybody's Talking About Jamie, the story of a sixteen-year-old boy from Sheffield, who decided to wear a dress to his school prom, has been a West End hit for the past three years. I have had the privilege of witnessing not only the show's growth but also the development of a community surrounding the production itself since I created the fan page on Instagram.

Within weeks, with my friend Grace on board, I decided to host a get-together for fans of the show. What began as an account to repost production shots and encore videos, quickly grew, and we suddenly had a sellout "Jamie Fan Night" on our hands.

A few long-shot emails later, and Jamie Campbell (the inspiration behind the show), Dan Gillespie-Sells (the composer) and John McCrea (the original Jamie) all made an appearance.

It was an intimate event, but it was the start of something special for a lot of people. Since 2018, Grace and I have organised and hosted three fan events, making use of the fantastic Phoenix Arts Club on Charing Cross Road.

Whilst the endless planning is exciting, the moments I cherish the most, are when an aspiring performer is singing during our 'open mic' section, giving me the chance to step away from the stage area, and just look around at a room full of people all sharing a love for the same work of art. Whether it be the LGBT+ themes of the show, helping young people to find their feet, or the story of a mother in pain, striking a chord with parents, everyone sees a bit of themselves in Jamie.

The show is specifically written with the intention of representing a diverse group of people, and this simply elucidates the story's universal effect. I really am learning that theatre is not the spectator-sport that it used to be seen as.

Theatre is all about community. Audiences are no longer interested in the physical barrier between the spotlight and the darkness, we want to feel immersed, we want to be moved. For the past three years, Everybody's Talking About Jamie has affected a myriad of theatre-goers. It promotes acceptance, confidence and truthful expression.

As a heterosexual guy, it's not so much the LGBT+ themes of the show that I connect with, instead, Jamie has taught me to express my passions without any care of judgement, and to pursue my dreams (as cliche as it sounds) with confidence and perseverance.

Aside from personal growth, the community itself has helped many of us to form some valuable friendships and relationships, and that is down to the power of this shared love.

Along with the events, we have had the opportunity to interview John McCrea, the ever-fabulous Layton Williams, Luke Bayer and Luke Latchman. The cast themselves have been wonderful in accommodating us, as have Nimax Theatres in allowing us the access they have. This is pure testament to a show that recognises the value of its fan base and sees the importance of the community that has subsequently formed.

Guest Blog: Matthew Seaman Chats The JAMIE Community
The Apollo Theatre during lockdown

Producer Nica Burns ensured that Jamie was the first full-book musical to reopen in the West End since the pandemic, and although it enjoyed a meagre four shows by the time London entered Tier 3, it gives us hope that the show's flame is far from burning out.

This year has been an ambiguous one for us all, but Grace and I have worked very hard to keep the flame alive, with our big "Virtual Jamie Quiz" and lots of Zoom calls. We are all holding our breath for the next explosion of energy in the community, which can only really happen when the show is up and running.

Even Disney recognised the value of our community. We are in talks with them regarding the promotion for the upcoming movie adaptation. With this international release lined up, it seems as though this community can only grow.

During the filming, we were lucky enough to be part of the "street party" scene, which saw thousands of fans and locals flock to an ordinary Sheffield road. It was a magical day, and although the actors were at work, filming repeated takes of the same scene, it did feel like a celebration of all things Jamie.

While the show is based in London, it would be ignorant of me not to acknowledge that its heart will always be in Sheffield, where it originated at the Crucible Theatre. The "pebble" that was that 980 seat venue has created a ripple that has now reached Walt Disney Studios and 20th Century Fox.

As a core part of the fan base, I feel truly honoured to have followed that ripple along its journey, and I believe as a community, we share the responsibility for the ever-growing wave that is Everybody's Talking About Jamie.

It baffles me when fans stop us in the streets of Soho for a selfie, as we really are just one of them, but regardless of the events and interviews, Jamie is for us all, and no matter where the tide takes it, a little part of it will always remain in our hearts.

No matter where you're from, how old you are, or however many times you have seen the show, you can join the community of 12,000 people online

Photo credit: Lucy Gray

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