Latest Review – Everybody’s Talking About Jamie [The Lowry, Salford Quays]


The Lowry, Salford Quays

Until Sunday 17 September 2023

Since it first premiered in Sheffield back in 2017, Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s Olivier Award-nominated musical has become something of a sensation, playing a record-breaking three-year West End residency and numerous international productions, including Japan, Los Angeles and Mexico, as well as inspiring a BAFTA-nominated Amazon Studios film adaptation.

Two years after that West End production closed, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie now returns for an extensive UK tour until July 2024, kicking off to sold-out houses at The Lowry in Salford this week.

Adapted from the 2011 BBC Three documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, charting the true story of Jamie Campbell, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a warm and uplifting coming-of-age tale of identity, family and perseverance, charting the struggled of 16 year old Sheffield school boy Jamie New as he attempts to break boundaries, overcome prejudice and bullying, and achieve his dream of becoming a drag sensation.

A musical is nothing without a great story, and Jamie’s story is certainly that, elevated by the emotional bonds of family and friendship, the unwavering power of the human spirit, and a heartwarming sense of acceptance within a close-knit community.

The musical boasts a solid cast and proven, life-affirming material, no question, though with it being very early days for this new tour, it is clear that a little extra time is needed to just tighten things up and allow the company to fully gel and settle in to their roles.

The production as a whole is never quite as slick as it needs to be. Pacing can feel sluggish and fall flat. Key lines and jokes are frequently thrown away as dialogue is delivered over laughs and applause. A few of the cast are still finding their feet, leaning on the experience of the veteran performers to help drive things along.

Persistent technical issues with the sound mix and microphones, though, are perhaps the most noteworthy problems. Vocals are drowned out by the sheer volume of the band, and microphone levels are often so low that dialogue is completely lost in the vast auditorium of The Lowry’s Lyric Theatre.

Ivano Turco gives a hugely assured performance in the title role, a perfomance filled with excitability, hope and a wide-eyed naivety, leading an incredibly experienced principal cast that includes Rebecca Mckinnis as Jamie’s mum, Margaret; John Patridge as local drag shop owner, Hugo, and former drag star, Loco Chanelle; Hayley Tamaddon as Jamie’s careers teacher, Miss Hedge; and long-time production alum Shobna Gulati, who has firmly made the role of Margaret’s best friend Ray her own. There is lovely work too from Talia Palamathanan as Jamie’s best friend, Pritti.

There is an awful lot to enjoy about the musical, which is equally as hilarious and spirited as it is heartbreaking and poignant, and though there is nothing wrong with the production, per se, it is simply a case of fine-tuning and polishing up, which will come with time and the experience of performing in front of audiences as rapturous as last night’s.

Running Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes (approx.), including one 15-minute interval.

Final Performance at The Lowry, Salford Quays: Sunday 17 September 2023

For more information, and to book tickets, please CLICK HERE.

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