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“Heart-wrenchingly incredible” – Reviewing Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Hull New Theatre

The Second UK Tour of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has just opened at Hull New Theatre to a packed audience. Having previously seen the production on its London stop, I couldn’t pass up a chance to see it again when it arrived in Hull.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a true story, based on Jamie Campbell who was banned from his school prom as he wanted to wear a dress. This inspired a documentary called Jamie: Drag Queen at 16.

Jamie New (Ivano Turco), a 16-year-old student in his last year of school is introduced to us by his Careers Advice teacher, Miss Hedge (Sam Bailey). He has always harboured a secret growing up; he’s always wanted to be a drag queen. After spending his years growing up with his friend Pritti Pasha (Talia Palamathanan) playing “dress up”, where Jamie would always be Carole Vorderman – that’s “a game he doesn’t want to stop playing”.

Jamie’s primary antagonists come in the form of two men in his life, the first from Dean Paxton (Jordan Ricketts), his primary bully at school. Dean is a textbook homophobic bully who attempts to grind Jamie down at every opportunity.

The other is his Dad (Akshay St Clair), who Jamie believes to be supportive of his drag persona, but later finds out that his mum, Margaret New (Rebecca McKinnis) has been shielding him from the fact that his father disapproves.

Margaret is almost always accompanied by Ray (Sejal Keshwala), who is her best friend. She is incredibly supportive of Jamie, and they have a lot of brilliant conversations, littered with innuendos and humour which always landed perfectly with the audience.

His mum buys him a brand new pair of shiny red stiletto heels for his 16th birthday, which Jamie has inner turmoil over wanting to wear them, but not wanting to be seen in them. He shyly shows Pritti during a revision session. Pritti manages to convince Jamie, after a confrontation with Dean that he should go to the prom wearing the heels and show everyone who he really is.

Jamie now needs a dress to go with his new shoes, so he visits “Victor’s Secrets” – a drag queen dress shop ran by former drag queen Hugo / Loco Chanelle (Kevin Clifton). Hugo becomes a mentor to Jamie, and manages to get him an opening act at Legs Eleven, a local drag queen bar where Loco Chanelle used to strut her stuff.

The curtain falls for the interval as Jamie makes his debut in front of his school bullies, who are chanting “minger” at him, but he has his drag armour on – they can’t touch him now!

Jamie and Pritti share a beautiful moment in Pritti’s bedroom, when she sings one of my favourite songs from the show – “It Means Beautiful”, where Talia’s voice sailed through the theatre effortlessly, helping to build Jamie’s confidence up after he’s told he must attend the prom in a suit, like all the other boys.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a fantastic, authentic portrayal of coming out, relationships, puberty, school bullying, and overcoming your fears to be true to who you are.

The music throughout is incredible, with heart wrenching songs like “The Wall in my Head”, “If I met myself again”, “He’s my boy”, as well as upbeat catchy songs you’ll be singing on the way home; the titular “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”, “Work of Art”, “Out of the Darkness”, and plenty more – all accompanied by a live band which is present at the top of the set through the show.

Throughout the show there’s plenty of ups and downs, as every teenager going through puberty experiences. The show ended on a fantastic finale which gained the quickest standing ovation I’ve ever seen in a theatre, everyone was instantly on their feet clapping along to the Finale and cheering for the cast.

Make sure you get down to Hull New Theatre before it closes! You can find all the info and tickets here.

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