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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Everybody's Talking About Jamie Review | The Lowry | Manchester

Extending his joy to the Lowry audience and promising to send all the feel-good vibes you can handle, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a teen bop musical that injects a fusion of self-reflection and self-confidence into its storyline.

Originally resonating with audiences as a 2011 BBC 3 documentary titled Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, the story follows the journey of Jamie Campbell, growing up in an ex-mining village in County Durham, having been banned for dressing in drag to his high school prom. The documentary blossomed into a stage musical in 2017 and the story has since reemerged with a film adaptation in 2021.

There is a lot to love about the optimistic tale, as Jamie is comfortable in his truth from the very beginning of the show, opening to the daydreamy track, And You Don’t Even Know It as his classmates get the results of their aptitude tests back. Breaking out of the barriers of the classroom, Anna Fleischle’s sharp, static school staging of grey blocks fractures into a rainbow-coloured production as the show bridges the gap between Jamie’s school life and his realising his drag fantasies.

Despite revolving around Jamie (Ivano Turco), the show delicately touches on the complex relationships he has when trying to live life on his own terms. With a set that envelops its flurry of relatable characters, the immersive musical has pushed far beyond its humble inception to rally around the power of community and draw in new fans along the way.

Alongside collisions with classmates, his teacher and his father, Jamie is surrounded by charmingly authentic people and rooted by his female support group, including his thankless mother (Rebecca McKinnis) and schoolmate, Pritti (Talia Palamathanan). Jamie’s drag mother, John Partridge (Hugo/Loco Chanelle) and the lovable McKinnis keep this show incredibly grounded considering its musical adaptation, and it is a testament to writer and lyricist Tom MacRae that the heart of the original story shines through. Dazzling with empathy and personal solos about sacrifice and heartache, Partridge’s rendition of The Legend of Loco Chanel (And The Blood Red Dress) help make this show a validating collaboration and an engrossing, rewatchable musical.

Director Matt Ryan’s stages the majority of Jamie’s upbeat songs as fantasies, with many of his musical moments reminiscent of watching 90’s/2000’s MTV pop videos. Light-up school desks and surrounding split screens back up Jamie’s performances, amplified by costumes that fill the show with nostalgic and joyful nods to the noughties. But with the sleek square set coming complete with a live band placed atop the two-tiered stage, the production delights with Turco’s spotlit solos.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is an honest take on the rejection that self-liberation can bring. It interweaves a story about extended family, a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and the necessity in being yourself through an affectionate pop soundtrack that everyone can get behind.

Tickets are available via the Lowry link

You can also watch Everybody's Talking About Jamie the Musical on PrimeVideo


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