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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie review (The Marlowe Theatre)

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With it being the start of June and Pride month, there couldn’t be a more perfect time for ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ to return to Canterbury. The much-adored musical has just opened at The Marlowe Theatre, bringing the heartwarming story of real-life aspiring drag queen Jamie Campbell to life on stage (renamed to Jamie New in the show). Based on the 2011 documentary ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’, the Sheffield-based musical is a collaboration between The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie Sells (score) and writer Tom MacRae (​​book and lyrics).

Everybody's Talking About Jamie programme outside The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

The musical last came to the Marlowe in Autumn 2021 and I was fortunate enough to cover the show on my website back then. After 3 busy years of reviewing theatre across the UK, I was grateful to have the opportunity to see the show again last night and find out if the material still stands strong, with so many new musicals on the theatre circuit. The cast for the 2023-2024 UK tour includes Ivano Turco (Cinderella and Get Up, Stand Up) as the title character, former Strictly professional and Marlowe panto alumni Kevin Clifton as Hugo/Loco Chanelle and X Factor winner Sam Bailey as Miss Hedge. I was excited to find out how the new cast would put their own spin on these iconic musical theatre characters.

Vibrant set design

Anna Fleischle’s set design continues to feel fresh and modern, using vibrant colours to brighten the school environment. Projections and video design are utilised, but alongside interiors and rotating set pieces, which keeps the staging interactive. It is refreshing to revisit this hybrid staging approach, at a time where some touring theatre productions rely too heavily on animations and video.

The set for Everybody's Talking About Jamie at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

The scene transitions are seamless and lifted by lively musical backing from the band. To quote a song from the show, the company’s swift movement of set pieces is a ‘work of art’, turning the narrative dividers and bookends of the show into an art form in their own right.

Music and sound quality

The wonderful thing about the score is that every musical number manages to capture the rich emotions, heartbreaking realities and uplifting atmosphere of the story. From Margaret New’s (Rebecca McKinnis) beautiful rendition of ‘If I Met Myself Again’ to the inspiring ‘Out of the Darkness (A Place Where We Belong)’, there is so much variety within Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s songs.

The Everybody's Talking About Jamie Tour Company
© Matt Crockett

The show is one of my favourite musicals and the catchy pop-themed score contributes to it being such a dynamic production. This interpretation was almost perfect in my opinion, earning just shy of a five-star review. There were a handful of sound balancing issues, with some of the vocals being over and under amplified. Margaret New’s ‘He’s My Boy’ for example is such an endearing moment, but it was slightly affected by the microphone levels. Whilst it did not detract from the heartfelt musical performance, the sound quality took away some of the softness of the emotive song.

A sensational cast

For me, the highlight of this new tour is the cast. Ivano Turco is an absolute star as Jamie, bringing so much charisma and energy to the role. He has such a soothing vocal tone, which breathes new life into the music. Ivano is also an incredibly engaging performer, encapsulating Jamie’s cheeky charm and oozing stage presence.

Ivano Turco (Jamie New) and Kevin Clifton (Hugo & Loco) in the Everybody's Talking About Jamie Tour 2024
© Matt Crockett

Kevin Clifton is a totally supportive Hugo/Loco Chanelle, helping Jamie through his final year of school. I was so impressed by Kevin’s portrayal of the pragmatic Hugo and the fabulous red-haired drag alter ego, capturing the audience’s attention and raising up Ivano’s Jamie. The ensemble also has so much energy and polish, taking Kate Prince’s choreography in their stride. The movements are so sharp and slick, from the dance numbers to their role in the scene transitions.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie finale at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

A heartfelt musical that radiates joy

It goes without saying that ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ continues to be a musical triumph. The current UK tour cast are sensational, taking the source material to new heights. Whilst largely a celebratory, glitzy musical, the messages about individuality and acceptance feel just as significant in 2024. The musical is based at the Marlowe until Saturday 8th June, with last minute tickets available via the theatre’s website.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx

*My ticket for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie was gifted in exchange for an unbiased review.



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