This touring production of West End smash, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, has been much delayed due to the pandemic, but it’s finally arrived at the Bristol Hippodrome in the most spectacular fashion. Everybody really is talking about Jamie, because the precocious teen holds aspirations of being a drag queen, and he wants to wear a dress to his prom.
Layton Williams stars as the titular Jamie New; a character you can tell he’s more than familiar with and very comfortable playing. His is a confident, strong performance, and vocally he has moments of brilliance, though I do wish the Hippodrome would sort their sound out. Far too many lyrics are lost because the band are too loud and drown out the performers on stage. It should be noted that this is a Hippodrome issue though, and not specific to this show.
All cast members turned in excellent performances for the most part; Sharan Paul plays Jamie’s best friend, Pritti Pasha, and goodness I could have listened to her sing all day. Another joy for me was Shobna Gulati as Ray and Shane Richie as Hugo. However, it was Amy Ellen Richardson who stole the entire show as Margaret New, Jamie’s mum.
Anyone out there, like me, who is blessed enough to parent a child that dares to be different, would be choking back the tears at her rendition of “He’s My Boy.” As a whole, I felt the show lacked an important emotional depth that I was craving, but Richardson’s performance, and that song in particular, really laid bare all the thoughts, feelings, and often challenging emotions that I deal with as the parent of a magical, unique and brilliant boy.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is definitely a tale of acceptance and defiance that is worthy of being told; it’s a sad fact that children and adults are still coming up against abuse for daring to step outside the narrow-minded, bigoted notions of what’s considered ‘normal.’ I applaud the cast for giving their all to their performances. However, I do feel the show itself could deliver a more powerful emotional punch if the moments of poignancy, heartbreak and stillness were explored in greater depth