An Afternoon at the Theatre: Everybody's Talking About Jamie

In another life, before I started having lupus symptoms, I was a theatre junkie. I spent countless summers and after school days performing in musicals and plays, from The Sound of Music to Noises Off. When I lived in New York City,  I worked for a Broadway theatre company and I got to meet some absolute theatre legends. We also got free tickets to tons of shows in town, and I was forever seeing musicals and plays, in awe of the talent.

There's something about watching a live show that simply can't be matched with the cinema. Truth be told, I do sometimes have a hard time seeing good shows, because it makes me miss performing. I have to confess, Everybody's Talking About Jamie did this for me a little bit (and by a little bit, I mean since I saw the show, I've been singing along to the soundtracks of some of my favorite Broadway shows during the day, and probably annoying the heck out of my neighbors).

I had heard about Everybody's Talking About Jamie a while back, when I was invited to a press night after their West End transfer. Still in a lot of pain, I wasn't able to make it. They offered me tickets to a different night, but I ended up being out of town. I honestly didn't research the show, so I wasn't too fussed.

But ever since I saw their performance at the Oliviers, I knew I had to see it live.

A friend of mine was coming to London, and I decided to do the TopTix lottery, where they were giving away front row tickets for £20. I won the lottery, and got to see a friend from the US, who I met in the theatre, doing a show together 15 years ago (!!!).

The show honestly blew me away, and there was so little I could even critique. Yes, "gender bending" stories have been done before. Yes, stories about gay kids have been done before. Yes, self-acceptance has been done to death...but Jamie still manages to bring something new to the stage that we need right now.

The story centers on 16-year-old Jamie New, the stage version of the real-life Jamie Campbell, from the BBC documentary Jamie: A Drag Queen at 16. Jamie lives in Sheffield with his single mother, and dreams of becoming a drag queen. With the support of his mom, her best friend and some amazing friends, he ends up achieving his dream.

However, I honestly feel like that synopsis doesn't quite do it justice, even though that's what the show is ultimately about. You really have to see it and listen to the soundtrack to grasp how incredibly special this show is. The finale "Out of the Darkness (Into the Spotlight)" is perhaps my favorite song. It's a bit cheesy, but is the exact song my 16-year-old self would have needed to hear.

Well you've come pretty far
But you know where you are
You're home

And the friends that you chose
Want to walk in your shoes
You'e home

Any time you feel your skies are falling
Look above see a bright silver lining
Listen up at your own freedom calling
Calling you to a day where you're shining

Out of the darkness
Into the spotlight
There is a new star
Shining so bright

Out of the darkness
Into the spotlight
There is a new star
Shining so bright

In this place where we belong
In this place where we belong

Out of the darkness
Into the spotlight
Follow your freedom
It's gonna be alright

In this place where we belong
In this place where we belong

I think one of my favorite things about the show was that the cast was so reflective of modern-day Britain. Although it is another show with a white male as the lead, those they cast as Jamie's classmates were the same faces you'd see in any class in the UK. It wasn't just a chorus of white people, but kids of all ethnicities. They even wrote two characters with hijabs intentionally, so that directors can't ignore them and swap them around for future productions.

This is absolutely a show for now, and it is one of those shows you want to share with people. I'm looking forward to taking Luke in the future. 

It's an amazing experience when the audience rises to its feet at the end and the actors are singing and dancing and you can feel the joy in the theatre. That moment really made me miss performing. 

If you're in London, you should definitely check the show out. Those on a budget should try their luck with the front row lottery (though you'll have to crane your neck). Tickets range from £20-£95, and it's worth every penny.

Check out the cast performing at the Olivier Awards below: 

And the show trailer below:

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