Daisy Bowie-Sell, WhatsOnStage
"Though they may be more pop than musical theatre, when they work Gillespie Sells' songs are a total treat. The first number "And You Don't Even Know It" ripples with sass – much like the protagonist himself – while the title track is a funky ear worm, guaranteed to be as at home on your playlist as it is on this stage. The slower ballads don't fare as well, but when the magnificent Josie Walker as Margaret sings "He's My Boy", it echoes a little of the truth and rawness of Willy Russell's masterpiece Blood Brothers. There are songs in this show which will make you weep. The tunes entirely come into their own in the second half, which soars."
"Director Jonathan Butterell's chief achievement is to gather together a high-energy, tight ensemble and let them rip into the satisfying songs with the help of choreographer Kate Prince's attitude-heavy movement. The grey, box-tower set occasionally feels clunky - the slightly jarring projections get a little lost within it all. But with the cast b-boying at the front of the stage, it really doesn't matter what's going on at the back: all eyes, as they should be, are on Jamie and his friends."
"This is a dynamic, deliciously entertaining night out, a glorious tribute to what makes us human and a heart-warming appeal for acceptance. Let's all keep talking about Jamie for as long as possible."
Paul Taylor, The Independent
"It would, no doubt, be better as drama if Jamie had stiffer opposition to overcome and if his father were a stronger presence than he is in this piece. But Jonathan Butterell, who was first to see the musical potential in the documentary, directs a beautifully cast production that brings out all the affectionate comedy and fellow-feeling in the show's approach to the support network."
"Phil Nichol is lovely as Jamie's mentor Hugo, a drag dress supplier who comes out of retirement as Loco Chanelle to give him the prod and the padding he lacks. Mina Anwar is hilarious as Ray, the staunch 'auntie' from next door who showers Jamie with the dodgy bargains and novelties she can't resist. This lippy, she proudly tells him, is "the one Paris Hilton wears when she shops at Aldi"."
"Lucie Shorthouse is in fantastic voice as his BFF, Pritti Pasha, the diligent Muslim girl who wants to be a doctor and whose choice to wear the hijab despite the mockery it arouses has its correspondence with Jamie's gestures of sartorial defiance. Thanks to Pritti's shrewd quiet influence, the genre of self-realisation through drag is given a touching twist."
Tim Auld, The Telegraph
"Kate Prince's choreography is sharp and cleverly evocative of both the trudging boredom of the classroom and the opportunities it gives for naughty self-expression. The music, referencing pop, funk, northern soul, Abba, Elton John, Radiohead (not to mention a deep undertow of the choppy guitar rhythms of Pink Floyd's dystopian The Wall) is catchy, though a little bit middle-aged, and could soon be rendered rather old hat by arrival of the hip-hop gymnastics of Hamilton in London."
"I didn't leave the theatre with one tune, ear-worm-like, boring a hole in my ear, but there was the gorgeous honeyed voice of Lucie Shorthouse as Jamie's Muslim best friend Pritti Pasha (the musical star of the show), and the blow-your-socks-off power of Josie Walker as Jamie's mother (a bit mawkish for my taste, though my 78-year-old ma who accompanied me said Walker's Big Kahuna number "My Boy", about a mother's unconditional love for her spawn, hit the sentimental bull's-eye dead centre)."
Tim Bano, The Stage
"The show feels strangely familiar, most obviously comparable to Billy Elliot or Kinky Boots, but without the miners' strike of the former and with much better songs than the latter. Despite its familiarity, though, it is alive and fresh."
"The expected plot points are there – a bigoted father, a bullying classmate – but one of the most thrilling aspects is that there's not really any adversity. Jamie, as played by John McRea, is such a force of nature that we know he can overcome all the attacks, the mockery and abuse. He's bulletproof, as one character calls him."
"Echoes of chart hits emerge frequently from Tom MacRae and Dan Gillespie Sells' songs. They fuse pop, funk and soul for the big tunes like opening number "And You Don't Even Know It", while mum Margaret (Josie Walker) has a couple of songs that lean on the likes of Joni Mitchell and Dusty Springfield for inspiration, particularly her reflection on wasted time "If I Met Myself Again"."
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard
"The score is by Dan Gillespie Sells of chart-toppers The Feeling. A songwriter with an easy sincerity, he combines poppy verve and a craving for the bittersweet. The book and lyrics are the work of TV writer Tom MacRae, and what they lack in blazingly original storytelling they more than make up for with warmth and wit. The result is a true crowd-pleaser — big-hearted and joyous."
"The highlight of a strong supporting cast is Josie Walker as Jamie's doting mother, glorious in her introspective solos. Lucie Shorthouse is richly amusing as his earnestly diligent friend Pritti and Phil Nichol delights as his bear-like mentor Hugo, who reminisces eagerly about a past life as diva Loco Chanelle."
Tom Wicker, Time Out
"At the show's heart is a star-making turn by John McCrea as Jamie, the queen-in-waiting. Charismatically sharp and sassy during the showstoppers, pulse-racingly choreographed by Kate Prince, he deftly reveals the ache of vulnerability behind his character's catwalk strut."
"Sells and MacRae craft a world that bubbles with hope but doesn't ignore its hardships. Jamie and his classmates face a society beaten down by broken relationships and poverty, that tells them there's no point trying."
"Everybody's Talking About Jamie is too fabulous to be a pity party. It's a joyous punch in the air about following your dreams and being yourself. ‘Life-affirming' is generally an over-used term, but not here. This production owns the stage."
Everybody's Talking About Jamie is currently booking at the Apollo Theatre until 21 April 2018.
- Kate Prince
- Jonathan Butterell
- Dan Gillespie Sells
- Lucie Shorthouse
- Everybody's Talking About Jamie
- Tom MacRae
- John McCrea
- Josie Walker
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