Review: Everybody's Talking About Jamie at The Wales Millennium Centre
"A little bit of glitter in the grey"...one of the lyrics in this musical's impeccable score that really stuck with me. In a world where things haven't been so great over the past 18 months - to say the least - this beautiful, gorgeously camp and heart-warming show will put a smile on your face, make you laugh repeatedly and have you humming along to the feel-good songs that are some of the catchiest I've heard in a long time!
Jamie is sixteen and living on a council estate in Sheffield; the school misfit who's in the process discovering who he truly is. He quickly reveals that his secret dream is to be a drag queen and he's ready to do whatever it takes to achieve it. We follow Jamie on his journey as he faces opposition from those who don't approve of his unconventional choices, like his deadbeat dad and school bully Dean. Thankfully he also receives a whole lot of love and support from his mum, Margaret, her best friend Ray and his closest friend, Priti.
Amy Ellen Richards was perfect in her role as Margaret New, Jamie's biggest cheerleader who supports him and encourages him to be his authentic self. Her love pours out in the emotional 'He's My Boy' which had the audience completely silent - what a voice! One thing that really struck me in this musical was the level of acting, it was entirely believable from everyone in the show. Shobna Gulati was fantastic as Ray, playing the part very naturally. The scenes of Margaret, Jamie and Ray were really touching, they bounced off each other and made it feel like you were a fly on the wall behind the scenes of a real life family get together. Sharan Phull's Priti gave the best vocal performance of the night in 'Beautiful' as Jamie's sweet, caring best friend.
I can't help but always having a bit of a favourite in every show, but this time I'm torn between two! Shane Richie is billed as Loco Chanelle/Hugo, but we watched Welsh performer Rhys Taylor in this role on the night and I have to say he was outstanding. One of those people who just make you smile every time they're on stage, can belt out a song but tell a story in the most captivating way and manage to bring tremendous heart to their character. We then of course we have our star of the show, Layton Williams, who played Jamie with phenomenal charisma and nuance. You felt everything Jamie was going through in the emotional scenes and cracked up at his spot on delivery of those witty one-liners. I found I liked him even when he was in his super cocky phase and got a bit too big for his boots (well, stilettos. And my goodness, does he look good in them...I kept thinking about how I couldn't even walk two steps in them let alone dance like that - so talented!).
After seeing the show, I can completely see why it's been such an enormous hit. It deserves all of the praise it's been getting. You WILL be up and dancing by the end, your hands will be sore from all the (deserved!) applause you'll be giving the amazing cast by the end and you'll be singing the chorus of "And You Don't Even Know It" for the rest of your evening.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is showing at the Wales Millennium Centre until November 20th, so there's still time to grab a seat! Get your tickets here.
Image credits: Matt Crockett