SPECIAL REVIEW OF THIS WEEKS SHOW AT THE GRAND THEATRE
Even if you can only see one show this year – Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the one you have to chose.
This is no fairy story but a true story of how Jamie Campbell proved you can be exactly what you want to be.
Over the years I have had and still have many friends who are drag queens and so many times their story has mirrored that of Jamie – in fact every scene reminded me of tales they have told me.
For me, this is a story that needs to be told and shows the resilience and sacrifices made by those who follow that profession.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie explodes on to the Grand Theatre Stage with a myriad of moving desk, high energy choreography and boundless energy from the cast. The production is seamless and leaves the audience breathless one moment with its highly turbo charged action and with a tear in their eye the next as emotional conflicts emerge.
From his opening moments Layton Williams drives the show. He leaves you in no doubt that his portrayal of Jamie, brash, camp and comedic but with some very touching emotional acting. He’s just a 16 year old who wants to be a drag queen and we follow his journey as he goes ‘out and proud’ , his relationship with his supportive loving mother and his father who doesn’t love him and disowns him.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has an amazing cast with true down to earth characterizations that can only be described as amazing.
Shane Richie shows just how versatile he is as Hugo/Loco Chanelle who becomes Jamie’s mentor and looks ‘mind blowing’ in his glamorous drag and high heels and with perfectly delivered barbed comments that are just true to life.
Shoba Gulati’s portrayal of Ray, is wonderful as the his mum’s best friend, who finds bargains in the every pound shop, whilst supporting and delivering words of wisdom. Her comedy timing and dry sense of humour is beyond brilliance.
As Margaret, Jamie’s mum Amy Ellen Richardson shows every emotion so well and says it all in her vocals especially ‘He’s My Boy’.
I loved Sharan Phull’s portrayal as Pitti Pasha, who becomes Jamie’s best friend “Am I your faghag” she says with such innocence. She is warm, sympathetic and her song “It means beautiful” comes over with such feeling.
First class portrayals of the three drag queens, who help Jamie along the road on his first appearance come from Gary Lee, JP McCue and Rhys Taylor their dialogue laced with oh so true innuendos in the dressing room “I was going to call it the tuck shop and references to the “tit box” for spare bras.
George Sampson makes a menacing and cruel school chum who finally comes to terms with his lot and Lara Denning’s Miss Hedge is spot on as the Careers Tutor with a class where pupils aspire to be footballers, reality T.V. stars, winners of Britain’s Got Talent or top models.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has a subtle message of acceptance amidst its high heels, high kicks, feathers and sequin dresses that leaves you with food for thought. Packed with songs you will be singing on your way to the car, supported by a great band and slick scene changing this show has a definite feel good factor to it.
The show runs until 7th November at The Grand Theatre Leeds
Liz Coggins is a member of the Critics Circle