jamie shoes

Ivano Turco as Jamie takes centre stage in his red high heels. Picture: Matt Crockett

Everyone’s talking about Jamie

Birmingham Hippodrome


Theatre’s a funny thing. Sometimes, you just know you’re going to love a production – everything about it seems your cup of tea.

At least that was the case with Everyone’s talking about Jamie which arrived at Birmingham Hippodrome with a record-breaking, award winning three-year residency in the West End in its locker.

It’s a show I’ve been dying to see and with the world awash with different, and often troubling, visions of what people consider ‘masculinity’, I thought it was the perfect production to take along my eldest son.

Neither of us were disappointed – this is a belter of a show and massively relevant, especially to young boys and men who are trying to find their space in a world which sometimes seems increasingly narrow and blinkered.

The vibe of the show has a dash of Kinky Boots and a generous dollop of Billy Elliot, with some Ru Paul sass thrown in for good measure. It is everything I want to showcase to my son about what he can be – kind and honest and funny and most of all, true to himself – whatever that may mean.

This is a production which hits on two levels – professionally, it’s a top-drawer production but at its heart is a story about acceptance. It could quite easily have been an overdramatised story about a tortuous tug of war about being gay but instead it is a feel-good show about saying ‘stuff the haters’ and being true to yourself.

That it treads that trailblazing path should come as no surprise given it is based on the true story of Jamie Campbell – the inspirational young man who decided he wanted to wear a frock to his prom and did – despite all the negativity and abuse his dress summoned (who knew a dress had so much power!). 

The fact that this is based on a true story is what gives this show such clout. Jamie Campbell said he never felt like a trailblazer but then I suppose trailblazers never do. They choose the path they take because they have to, because they are driven to, despite the odds.

As such you feel like you’re living and breathing this journey with Jamie and it’s easy to get lost in the world on stage.


John Partridge's Hugo in his drag persona Loco Chanelle

The cast are top notch - Ivano Turco is nothing short of sensational as Jamie while Rebecca McKinnis brings some musical theatre class as Margaret, her heart-rending He’s my boy being the standout singing performance in a sea of many fabulous tunes.

Coronation Street star Shobna Gulati is brilliant as Ray, a part that seemed made for her. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie stalwart Talia Palamathanan as Pritti brought a real depth to the show with her performance.

Add to them Dancing on Ice and Emmerdale’s Hayley Tamaddon as Miss Hedge and EastEnders legend John Partridge as Hugo/Loco Chanelle and you’ve got a cast that most productions would trip over their red stilettos to get.

A special mention also to the three fabulous Queens from Legs 11 played by Garry Lee, Ky Kelly (Anthony Gyde) and David McNair who sprinkled their roles with humour, light and fairy dust.

With lyrics from Tom MacRae (Whovians will know him from Doctor Who) and Dan Gillespie Sells of  The Feeling fame providing an excellent original score which, as his heritage would hint, is chocked full of catchy pop tunes. It’s fitting as Jamie certainly deserves something truly original.

The fantastic choreography comes courtesy of Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Kate Prince and is every bit as wonderful as some of her previous work such as Into the Hoods and Some Like It Hip Hop.

The only thing I wondered when I saw this was whether this show would hit home given it was all about youngsters – in fact it appealed to me as both a reminder, a footnote of when I was young, and a hopeful insight of what it means to be young these days. It’s not all doom and gloom and divisiveness, there is joy and kindness and acceptance out there.

Some of the more adult themes and language in the show were probably on the edge of suitability for my nearly teen, however, I would happily accept that in return for the positive messages he took away from the evening.

My son came away raving about how much he had enjoyed it and wondering whether any boy might wish to wear a frock to his school prom. If someone did then he pledged to support them. That’s the power of theatre and of love.

Everyone’s talking about Jamie plays at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 14th, with a BSL performance, a captioned performance and an audio described performance. With some performances showing limited availability, it pays to book now. Tickets are from £25 and can be booked here . (There is an age guidance of 14+)

Sarah Clarke


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