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Everybody's Talking About Jamie, New Theatre Oxford

By Becky Langley

Who doesn’t love a musical? Pre-student days I was in London almost every month to experience the magic of live theatre (remember that too? Pre-student days? Actual money?) So, I of course jumped at the chance to attend the Jamie premiere last night in Oxford to review the show for the That Oxford Girl.

I like my musicals in three flavours: ultra-traditional (think The King and I, something straight out of the 1930s,) ultra-modern and edgy (Book of Mormon is my jam) or Phantom of the Opera (my undisputed musical one true love. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it- six; I think.) Everybody’s Talking about Jamie is really none of these which means it has mass appeal to just about everyone, it would be the ideal ‘starter musical’ for someone that hasn’t maybe seen many but wants to try out musicals and wants a super fun night out.

Jamie is a huge-hearted (and 100% true) story of love, acceptance, and courage. The central character is, of course, Jamie New (Ivano Turco,) a sixteen-year-old boy, on the cusp of leaving school in year 11 who dreams of being a drag queen. Jamie is supported by his wonderful mum (Rebecca McKinnis) and crazy family friend, Ray (the fabulous Shobna Gulati who shot to fame in Dinnerladies and then Corrie.) Jamie decides he wants to go to Prom in a dress and is immersed into the world of drag queendom and queerdom by Hugo (Darren Day) but not without some inevitable friction and prejudice from typical school bully Dean (Jordan Ricketts) and hard-headed careers teacher, Miss Hedge (Harriet Payne in the Oxford run.)

Jamie is a great night out. It will make you laugh and the musical numbers are the typical high energy paraphernalia you would expect of anything direct from the West End. But Jamie is more than that. Sometimes cruel (Ashkay St Clair is a wonderful villain as Jamie’s dad,) sometimes real but where it really excels is in its tender, touching moments where its heartfelt monologues. Jamie in Act One’s The Wall in my Head and his mum’s bring-the-house-down He’s my Boy in Act Two are the outstanding moments.

In all honesty, for the seasoned theatre goer, Jamie is nothing new. A love child of Matilda and Kinky Boots. Nevertheless, Jamie is a good night out that is extremely enjoyable and the perfect introduction to the world of musical theatre for anyone that wanted to try out the theatre-going experience. You can catch Jamie and his friends in Oxford until December 30th (the perfect Christmas treat) or at various venues throughout the country until July of next year.


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