Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Milton Keynes Theatre
Review Everybodys Talking About Jamie 24

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Well. What better way to celebrate PRIDE month than kicking up those heels and stepping into the spotlight at Milton Keynes Theatre with Everybody’s Talking About Jamie!
Inspired by the documentary and true story of Jamie and Margaret Campbell brought by the BBC to our screens in 2011 –  Jamie, Drag Queen at 16, an absolute must see to truly understand the narrative –  this vibrant musical hit the MK stage last night following a West End residency ( 2017 – 2021 ), sold out UK and International tours, a 2021 film release and a nomination for Outstanding British Film at the BAFTAs in 2022. Impressed? You should be.
Jamie Campbell – Jamie New in the musical – was raised by his fiercely protective, loyal mum and her best friend, two amazingly strong but infallible women, his Dad having left the family home and now starting over again but without wanting Jamie in his life.
Take that premise and inject it with copious amounts of sparkle, shine and glitter, add great measures of strength, hopes and dreams, mix in vulnerability, doubt and societal pressure then finish off with kindness, empathy, flamboyance and resilience and you’ve got the recipe for success.
We begin at school, with the Year 11’s under the direction of the sometimes overly harsh Miss Hedge looking at career choices. Somewhat depressingly so as there’s little by way of aspirations but for our Jamie.  Jamie knows exactly what he wants to be and that is a Drag Queen.  So begins the show, starting as it means to go with great musicality and deskography, boundless energy and wildness.
There's Something About Jamie - Review 24

Get your tickets Here

Jamie could so easily have the potential to be seen as precocious and self absorbed as he determines to be centre stage but Ivano Turco expertly brings out the beauty in Jamie, the softness, the sensitivity and self doubts whilst still delivering the dazzle, sass and canny wit.
Ivano is a force to be reckoned with and a true sensation. Understanding this role perfectly he is unapologetically himself and sublimely so.
Jamie struggles through most of the show with acceptance, self doubt, fear and rejection and Ivano portrays all emotions with intensity and accuracy. Yet interspersed are the  most hilarious quips and one-liners that lifts the performance from dreary to divine. As the fourth Jamie, Ivano had some pretty big shoes to fill, literally, but fill them he did making the sky high stiletto of a role his own.
Back to school and it’s exactly how we all remember with a mixed bag of players all trying to just get on and fit in. Enter Miss Hedge ( Georgina Hagen ) in her Jimmy Choos trying and failing to engage the class so she often reverts to sarcastic and vindictive teaching methods but we do get a glimpse of the real her which is endearing.  Introducing Pritti Pasha, Jamie’s BFF and absolute ally, trying to get her exam results so she can afford her dreams of being a doctor. Pritti is outstanding in her role and is wonderful throughout coming into her own in some scene stealing moments – sorry, no spoilers.
The class ensemble work brilliantly together, bouncing off each other with bants and laughs but the element of bullying and cruelty slashes through.
There is offensive language and behaviours at play but that punches home the hostility and hate that we know is directed at so many people in society today. It’s not right, it’s not acceptable and it’s rightfully challenged in the show.
As Jamie struggles to realise his dream of drag queen stardom, he meets the flamboyant Hugo, alter ego: Loco Channelle.  Hugo (Kevin Clifton) has flair, fun, kindness and empathy in bucket loads, The Legend of Loco Chanelle and The Blood Red Dress captivated the whole audience with his astonishing vocals, clever costume changes, drama and showbiz pizzazz. Best known for his Strictly career, Clifton takes it up a million notches with his phenomenal performance blending between Hugo and Loco exquisitely.
Fab-u-lous Darling !
buy tickets
Hugo becomes Jamie’s drag mentor introducing him to the stage at Legs Eleven where we also get to meet drag queens extraordinaire Sandra Bollock, Laika Virgin and Tray Sophisticay.  This glorious trio are rude, crude and delicious with costumes of the finest couture attitudes to match.
Behind all this is the continuity of a mothers unconditional, irrefutable love and an auntie’s adoration and protective care. Margaret (Rebecca McKinnis) and Ray (Sejal Keshwala) gel the story together so, so very well.  The genuine love they have for each other and for Jamie is palpable. Heartfelt and real, we feel the love and determination from the matriarchs particularly so in the moments of harsh talking, tough love and heartbreak. ‘He’s My Boy’ – words actually spoken by Margaret Campbell in the documentary – broke me. The power in the song goes beyond words in any review.
In polar opposite, we bear witness to the devastating relationship with Jamie’s dad.  Unnecessarily cruel and without care for hurt, it’s brutal.
As glue is to wigs and base is to face, music is the bond for this show. The songs, score and live band are just flawless and enhance the vibrancy of the show with real, raw, honest vocals and performance. It’s a catchy mix of poppy tunes and emotionally charged ballads all captivating the scene, emotion and character entirely.
Staging was smooth and polished, set changes were seamless and flowed really well. There’s an inventive use of space utilising every inch of the stage side to side and way up high.
It’s a visual delight as the background is deliberately dreary allowing the colours to flood the scenes, projections add to the narrative in slick synchronicity.
The stage energy from drab to drag balances brilliantly.
Eveybody’s Talking About Jamie presents on stage the challenges we see every day. Prejudice, poverty, problems. The unpleasantness of people, overbearing and vindictive attitudes, bigotry and bullies. The show does have shocking malice, sadness and objectionable moments so prepare but don’t be put off.
It also superbly embraces bravery, allies, courage and love in absolute.
It throws glitter about the grit and dull, the determination brings rainbows and we see hope, positivity, possibilities and success coming to life in dazzling technicolour.
The show is evocative, provocative and inspiring. It’s so much more than a show to be honest. It’s the reason to step out of the spotlight, be seen and be heard.
It’s significant.
It’s dragnificent.
Review Everybodys Talking About Jamie 02 24

Get your tickets Here

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie the hit musical for today by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom Macrae from an original idea by Jonathan Butterell.
Starring Ivano Turco, Rebecca McKinnis, Sejal Keshawala, Talia Palamathanan, Georgina Hagen, with Sam Bailey and Kevin Clifton.
Liv Ashman, Rhiannon Bacchus, Geoff Berrisford, Jessica Daugirda, Finton Flynn, Anthony Gyde ( KY Kelly ), Annabelle Laing, Garry Lee, David McNair, Luca Moscardini, Joshian Angelo Omana Jordan Ricketts, Akshay St Clair, Thomas Walton, Takaiyah Bailey, Joe Wolstenholme.
Band – Matthew Billups, Jack Fawcett, Robert Greenwood, James Higginson, Claire Shaw, Adam Smith
Director – Matt Ryan
Designer – Anna Fleischle
Choreographer – Kate Prince
Production Team – Georgina Hagen, Talia Palamathanan, Annabelle Laing, Luca Moscardini, Sharon Spiers, James Ingram, Jack Conway, Nathalie Perthuisot, Brittany Rutt, Darren Jones, Robbie Barclay, Craig Flint, Wilkie Morrison, Jim Erasmus, George Malin, Mary Bennett, Andrew Manzie, Iwan Harries, Eleanor Ritchie, Elizabeth Billington, Emma Hendry, Neelam Surelia.


Everybody’s Talking About Jamies is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 15th June 2024.  Tickets are available from £13 (+ £3.80 transaction fee), General bookings: 0844 871 7615, Access bookings:0333 009 5399, Group bookings:0207 206 1174 or online.


Reviewed by: