Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Leeds Grand Theatre

It’s true, everybody is talking about Jamie! The whole of Leeds Grand is a hive of excitement as audiences take their seats ready to watch the spectacular cast strut their stuff.

The show is simple, beautiful storytelling at its best. Teenager Jamie wants to reach for the stars and live his dream of becoming a Drag Queen. And he wants to wear a dress to his prom, too. But to do that Jamie must overcome prejudice, bullying (at the hands of his schoolmate Dean, played with just the right swagger and smirk by George Sampson) and the judgement of people who can’t understand his dreams. With the support of his loving mum and his best friend, Jamie can come out of the darkness, into the spotlight.

The role of Jamie needs to be played by someone with the innate ability to capture the audience’s hearts from the very first moment he steps on stage – and Layton Williams does just that. He’s charming and sassy, vulnerable and authentic – everything we need Jamie to be. He’s a wonderful leading man and shines on the stage, which is no mean feat considering he’s joined by an incredible cast.

Shobna Gulati just is Ray, Margaret New’s best friends. She is raucously hilarious which contrasts beautifully with Amy Ellen Richardson’s soft yet strong Margaret. Shane Richie seems to be a bit of a wildcard as dress shop owner and Drag Queen Hugo / Loco Chanelle, yet he plays the role with a respectful touch of camp. He’s naturally likeable and with impeccable comic timing, and it’s lovely to see he doesn’t go too OTT with the role – it lands perfectly.

Of course, resident director Cameron Johnson has done a smashing job of bringing a magical vibe to the production. The energy from the whole cast sparkles and injects a ridiculously feel-good atmosphere into the auditorium.

Those lucky enough to spy the real inspiration for this musical, Jamie Campbell and his mum Margaret, will have surely been blown away by the pair’s charisma. It’s no wonder his inspirational story took the world by storm and it was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience to see the real life Jamie while on a trip to see one of my all time favourite shows!

If you love the show, love musicals in general or just love genuinely heartwarming stories then you simply have to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie! Playing at Leeds Grand Theatre until 7th November.

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