Dust off your glad rags, step into your highest heels and pass it on that coming-of-age musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie visits Milton Keynes Theatre this month.
The show, which is about an openly gay schoolboy who dreams of being a drag queen, was inspired by the true story of sixteen-year-old Jamie Campbell. A 2011 BBC documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, chronicled the teenager’s experiences when he defied the bullies and attended his school prom wearing a dress.
The documentary highlighted that fierce drag queens have to start somewhere – the fabulousness of the contestants featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race is hard-won! Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jamie’s determination to celebrate his true self captured the attention of creatives Jonathan Butterell, Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae. The trio devised a musical inspired by the trailblazing teen’s lively spirit and personal battles. Then a film followed too.
In Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the misfit who comes out of the darkness and struts into the spotlight is named Jamie New. Supported by his loving mum and loyal friends, he stands up to the haters, decides to be happy and searches for a place where he can belong.
Barrier-breaking, triple-threat performer Layton Williams and much-loved entertainer Shane Richie have reprised their roles from the critically acclaimed West End production to lead the touring cast.
Layton Williams stars as Jamie. Layton launched his career in 2007 with his breakout role as the first person of colour to play Billy Elliot in the West End. He then went on to star as the original Young Michael Jackson in Thriller. Further theatre credits include the role of Seaweed in Hairspray and the touring production of Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man.
Shane Richie plays local drag legend Hugo/Loco Chanelle, who becomes Jamie’s mentor. Shane has had a hugely successful forty-year career in theatre, film, music and television. He was in the 2020 series of I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! and is best known for his role as Alfie Moon in EastEnders.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has won eight major theatre awards and was nominated for five Olivier awards. Most recently, the show won Best Original Cast Recording at the 2019 WhatsOnStage Awards.
*Production photography by Matt Crockett.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday 19 to Saturday 23 April.
This preview is also featured on Total MK.
Update 20 April 2022: Read my review of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.