"Everybody's Talking about Jamie": Not a Drag

The Cast of "Everybody's Talking about Jamie"
Once upon a time there was a 16-year-old boy who had a secret he wanted to tell”, who “approached a documentary filmmaker, as you do, and asked if they would help them tell it.” With that terse statement begins the new (2017) British musical Everybody's Talking about Jamie, inspired by a 2011 BBC Firecracker Documentary, “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16”. It has just arrived on these shores at local theaters in an HD broadcast, with two more showings scheduled, so don't miss this incredibly brilliant piece of theater. It starts a bit confusingly with a scene full of strong accents (hard to follow), but never fear, it's bound to win you over, as a brief synopsis should reveal.

John McCrea & Lucie Shorthouse in "Everybody's Talking about Jamie"

Year Eleven (equivalent to our tenth grade) Careers teacher Miss Hedge (Michele Visage) asks students what they want to become. Jamie New (John McCrea) gets teased about his homosexuality, telling the audience he wants to be a drag queen performer (“But You Don't Even Know It”). Meanwhile his mother Margaret (Rebecca McKinnis) and family friend Ray (Shobna Gulati) make plans for his sixteenth birthday. Mother gives Jamie a card ostensibly from his absent father (Ken Christiansen), and a pair of red high heels from her, which Jamie is reluctant to wear (“The Wall in My Head”). He shows them to his friend Pritti Pasha (Lucie Shorthouse), and both of them are taunted by bully Dean Paxton (Luke Baker), she for being a Muslim and Jamie for being gay (“Spotlight”/”Star of the Show”). Jamie meets Hugo (Lee Ross) the owner of a local drag costume store, Victor's Secret, who was once a drag queen himself (“Legend of Loco Chanelle”), and shows Jamie a beautiful dress (“The Blood Red Dress”). Meanwhile Margaret meets secretly with Jamie's father who wants nothing to do with him (“If I Met Myself Again”). Jamie finds the blood red dress with a note (again ostensibly from his father) and thus is emboldened to perform in a drag show, while Miss Hedge calls his attire “A Work of Art”. He begins to lose his nerve, but three helpful drag performers, Lieka Virgin (Alex Anstey), Tray Sophisticay (James Gillian) and Sandra Bullock (Daniel Jacob) push him on stage (“Over the Top”).The next day at school, the show's title proves true (“Everybody's Talking about Jamie”) but Miss Hedge tells him to “get real” and refuses to let him wear a dress to the prom (“Limited Edition Prom Night Special”), and Pritti tells him “It Means Beautiful”, though Jamie sings of being “Ugly in the Ugly World”. His Mother expresses her feelings in an exquisite solo (“He's My Boy”) Eventually, everybody comes around, in ways not to be revealed here (“Out of the Darkness/A Place Where We Belong”). It's a joyful ending, maybe a bit too universally accepting for reality, but it sure makes for a reassuring view of our world. McCrea is stunning, McKinnis breaks one's heart, Gulati is a gem and Shorthouse is mesmerizing. The quality of the cast is nearly unmatchable.

John McCrea in "Everybody's Talking About Jamie"
Others in the cast include Fatima (Courtney Bowen), Sayid (Jordan Cunningham), Levi (Daniel Davids), Mickey (Ryan Hughes), Bex (Harriet Payne), Cy (Jordan Laviniere), Becca (Lauran Rae) and Vicki (Kirstie Skivington). The terrific Music is by Dan Gillespie Sells and the engaging Book and literate Lyrics are by Tom MacRae. It was excellently Directed by Jonathan Butterell, with superb Set and Costume Design by Anna Fleischle, truly rousing Choreography by Kate Prince, Music Direction by Theo Jamieson, Lighting Design by Lucy Carter, Sound Design by Paul Groothuis, and Video Design by Luke Hall.

The Cast of "Everybody's Talking about Jamie"

Nominated for five Olivier Awards, Jamie won none (this being the year of Hamilton in Britain), but it's already been extended on the West End stage and rumored possibly to be made into a film. As a documentary, stage production and live broadcast, this show has on several levels proven to be a winner. And when did you last see a show whose second act was even better than the first. We'll surely be talking about Jamie for some time to come.

For movie theatre information and ticket purchase, visit JamieinCinemas.com. or the box office at Regal Cinemas in Kingston, MA or at a theatre near you.  The encore dates at Kingston are Sunday Nov.11 at 12:55pm and Wednesday Nov.14 at 7pm.

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