After a year's delay due to Covid-19 Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has finally strutted into Bristol Hippodrome with plenty of joy and razzle-dazzle to banish away any blues.
Layton Williams oozes star quality and although not boasting the best vocals, has plenty of pizzazz, talent and likeability to make up for it. His portrayal of Jamie New, the 16-year-old from a scruffy council estate with dreams of stardom as a drag queen, is brilliant. His natural wit and charm are perfect for the snappy lines of banter and sass.
Layton doesn’t place a foot wrong, even in the huge red heels, delivering every line, song and dance move with purpose and enthusiasm. With big shoes to fill after John McCrea’s performance, Layton lives, breathes and shines the Jamie way of life and it's irresistibly infectious.
Based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, the story started out as a TV documentary but it was soon picked up by Doctor Who writer Tom MacRae who joined forces with Dan Gillespie Sells, lead singer and songwriter of The Feeling.
The numbers throughout the piece are full of heart, energy and meaning, particularly And You Don’t Even Know It, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, It Means Beautiful, The Wall in my Head and the one that stole the show My Boy.
Tenderly delivered by Jamie’s mother Margaret, played by Amy Ellen Richardson, this number brought a powerful cheer before the final few bars had been sung and many a tear across the Bristol audience.
Richardson and Williams are joined by the well-loved Shane Richie as Hugo/Loco Chanelle and the sweet Sharan Phull as Pritti Pasha, incredible dancer George Sampson as Dean and hilarious Shobna Gulati as a second mother to Jamie, Ray. What a cast!
Desks cleverly transformed into bus stops, benches and more, with a minimal set working in so many settings. Teamed with jazzy lighting and kitchens that appear out of nowhere, the transitions in the production are satisfyingly slick and seamless.
My Spotify playlist of musical hits is now filled with the Jamie soundtrack and I’ll have all the words nailed by next week... And you don’t even know it!