Photo: Matt Crockett

We’re already big fans of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie here at GAY TIMES, having reviewed its London premiere and covered subsequent runs. The feel-good queer musical which debuted in Sheffield seven years ago has gone on to become something of a phenomenon. With an extended West End run, followed by various tours, and now a feature film, it feels like nothing can stop the rise and rise of this hit musical – so it’s great to have the show back in London some four years since we were last able to catch it.

For those unfamiliar, it’s based on the real-life story of a teenager from Sheffield, Jamie Campbell, who at the age of 16 dreamed of becoming a drag queen and wearing a dress to his school prom, only to face prejudice from his teachers and his peers. It was the 2011 documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 which inspired this musical; in this dramatised version we follow Jamie New (Ivano Turco, who is a joy to watch), his mum Margaret (Rebecca McKinnis) and their family friend Ray (Shobna Gulati) who conspire to make Jamie’s dreams a reality.

Over the course of the evening we see various people try to stand in Jamie’s way, whether that’s school bullies, disapproving teachers, or his disappointed and estranged father (Akshay St Clair). With the support of his mum, Ray and friendly local drag royalty Loco Chanel (John Partridge), can Jamie overcome adversity to succeed in his first drag show? Will Jamie be the belle of the ball at the school prom?

It’s a wonderfully uplifting musical, which is also a celebration of queer culture – this is a production full of joy and colour, with drag queens, high heels and glitter galore. It also has some excellent choreography and a handful of banging tunes – but actually our favourite musical moment in the show is reserved for Jamie’s mum, the tender ballad ‘He’s My Boy’, which sensitively considers her relationship with her unconventional but brilliant son – it’s a beautiful, showstopping moment.

We always have so much fun with Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and we’re pleased to report that this production is as good as it’s ever been. Sure, if we were nit-picking we could find some minor faults – we still feel that all the best songs are in act two, and that at times it feels as though the stakes aren’t particularly high, with problems a little too easy to overcome – but these are tiny details which don’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the show. No musical is ever perfect, but this one’s pretty amazing – check it out while you can.

GAY TIMES gives Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – 5/5

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