Friday, 28 February 2020

Review: Everybody's Talking About Jamie (February 2020)

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Everybody's Talking About Jamie.
Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future. Jamie is going to be a sensation. Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight. I had previously seen Everybody's Talking About Jamie in December 2017, and was overjoyed at the opportunity to see it again over two years after my first encounter with the show.

Telling the tale of an outsider seeking acceptance, Everybody's Talking About Jamie follows a narrative that I personally find to be rather moving. Despite the obstacles that the main character, Jamie, faces along the journey, it is a thoroughly uplifting story, and you are likely to leave the Apollo Theatre feeling elated. No matter what your background is, I'm sure that many will be able to relate to certain elements of the story, which makes it all the more touching. The relationship between Jamie and his Mother, Margaret, is a particularly striking aspect of the story, and remains at the heart of the show. The bond between the two characters is really heartwarming to watch, and is beautifully portrayed through the musical number 'My Man, Your Boy'. Additionally, in relation to its book and story, Everybody's Talking About Jamie deserves a lot of praise for its originality. The show is inspired by real-life events, and is therefore not based off of any other source material. The idea to build a story based on this concept was inspiring, and really does make for an intriguing narrative. As a result, there can be no doubt of Everybody's Talking About Jamie's immense creativity.

The musical score, with music by Dan Gillespie Sells and lyrics by Tom MacRae, is outstanding. Ever since first seeing the show over two years ago, I have listened to the original cast album on numerous occasions, and yet the music never gets old. There are a number of really catchy tunes amongst the musical score, and they make for great listening. The songs are all rather modern, which was aptly suited to the tone of the show, and the vast majority are extremely upbeat. There are also a number of slower ballads, which are equally as well-written. Among these include 'He's My Boy', which is a truly wonderful song.

The entirety of the cast were all excellent and, rather endearingly, they all really looked like they were enjoying themselves when onstage. In what is his debut role on a West End stage, Noah Thomas recently assumed the role of Jamie New and provides a solid portrayal. The most striking aspect of Thomas's performance was his dancing, which was well and truly outstanding. In particular, his high-kicks were utterly exceptional. At the performance I attended, Gillian Ford portrayed Margaret New; a role she was outstanding in. She was very believable as the caring Mother, and her rendition of 'He's My Boy' was an absolute showstopper. The number brought the house down, clearly evidencing that she had the audience in the palm of her hands. Sejal Keshwala, as Ray, was also a highlight of the show. She too felt very credible in the role, and really inhabited the role flawlessly. Additionally, special mentions must also be awarded to Leon Craig, James Gillan and David O'Reilly, who portrayed Sandra Bollock, Tray Sophisticay and Laika Virgin; the trio of drag queens. They all had phenomenal comedic timing, brilliant presences and really made good use of their limited stage time. Fantastic performances all around!

In relation to creative aspects of the show, the choreography by Kate Prince is marvellous. The choreography is energetic and snappy, and effectively conveys the upbeat mood of the piece. In addition to this, all the big dance numbers were faultlessly carried out by an ensemble of skilled and gifted dancers.

Now for my final verdict on Everybody's Talking About Jamie. I give Everybody's Talking About Jamie...

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is an outstanding piece of theatre; it has a great story, and features a remarkable musical score. This is a show that would likely prove very hard to dislike.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

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