Starting the new year as I mean to go on, I ventured to Mayflower Theatre to immerse myself in the funny and fabulous award-winning show – Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. If you haven’t heard the chat, let me catch you up…
Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future. Jamie is going to be a sensation. Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.
You are immediately drawn into this coming of age tale, watching as teenagers navigate their hopes and dreams of what they aspire to become, whilst battling against jaded views of the world and being told they should be making “realistic” life choices.
Ivano Turco gives us a heartfelt performance as Jamie, he draws you into the character tugging at the heartstrings as he battles against societies expectations to become the person he is meant to be. With the love and support of family and friends we watch him transform on stage and become empowered enough to introduce the world to Mimi Me – his Drag Queen persona. Ivano is truly a triple threat, he gives a raw and emotional performance making you invested in Jamie, then slips into the red heels and saunters around the stage with ease a flair whilst remaining note-perfect! I honestly don’t think I could take two steps in those shoes, I sat amazed as he pirouettes with style and ease.
Rebecca McKinnis gives a stunning performance as Jamie’s mum, Margaret New. Watching her unconditional love as she creates a safe environment for Jamie to feel free to be himself, encouraging him to embrace not deny the person he wants to be. She is not perfect and makes a few questionable decisions along the way, but Margaret is a character to be admired. Rebecca has some standout moments as she pours her heart out through song, bringing me to tears on a couple of occasions – she captured the essence of a mother’s devotion.
Talia Palamathanan who plays best friend Pritti Pasha creates a character that you hope everyone has in their lives. Her unwavering support of Jamie is something to be marvelled. Talia’s voice is beautiful as she takes centre stage to lift Jamie back up from the lowest moments with encouragement and admiration whilst fighting her own battles against the unkind words of classmates. You watch her transform into an empowered character, and taking a stand against the injustices she sees in front of her.
Every story needs a role model and where his dad has failed him Jamie finds that in Hugo, played by John Partridge. As Hugo introduces Jamie to the glamorous Loco Chanelle, (Hugo’s Drag Queen persona) we watch as it helps him find his identity and transform into a more confident version of himself. John takes us on a journey with his performance, managing to switch seamlessly between different personalities – drawing us in with a sensitive and caring character, and then giving us a flamboyant and star quality performance full of glitz and glam!
Giovanna Fletcher introduces us to the worn down character of Miss Hedge. She gives a realistic performance of an exasperated character, clearly battling her own demons of disappointment in how her life has panned out. She tries to impress upon the class to take a “realistic” view on life, rather than encouraging them to dream big. Giovanna throws herself into the role showing us a side of society who let their own grievances effect how they treat others.
The supporting cast brought the stage to life with their story telling through dance and music, many taking on multiple roles, They all worked together seamlessly and showcased a range of talented cast members who we are sure to see much more of in the future.
This is a story that needs to be told. The unfortunate truth is that we still live in a world full of hate and intolerance, where people’s differences aren’t always accepted, we should be encouraging everyone to embrace their true self and feel free to live outwardly how they feel inwardly.
It is a hard hitting reflection of society in places, hearing vile words and slanders used by bullies and bigots, but more importantly the show celebrates the uniqueness of individuals and the importance of love and support. Sending out a message that finding out who you are is a thing to be embraced and celebrated.
Tickets for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Tuesday 9 – Sunday 14 January 2024) are on sale at mayflower.org.uk or 02380 711811.
Words by Vicky Anscombe
Photography by Matt Crockett