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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie - Royal and Derngate Review

Reviewed by Bethany Hill
Tickets were gifted in return for an honest review.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and I can sure see why! Travelling on a tour of the UK, the latest production of the critically acclaimed and movie-adapted show inspired by the true story of Jamie and Margaret Campbell proves once again that victory comes to those who put a dress on. I have been a fan of the show since it’s debut in 2017 and this fresh production as brought a new lease of life along with, of course, camp fun. It truly is a little bit of glitter in the grey. ✨

Ivano Turco (Jamie New) and the company. Photo by Matt Crockett

The show tells the story of Jamie New, a variation of the wonderful real life superstar Jamie Campbell, who at the tender age of 16 has dreams of leaving his hometown of Sheffield behind to become a world famous drag queen. Raised by his fantastic mother Margaret and fiercely loyal family friend Ray, Jamie is out and proud as gay already; this is not your typical coming out story. Jamie finally finds the confidence to tell his family and best friend Pritti of his dreams and they encourage him to wear a dress and heels to prom in order to display his most authentic self.

Along the way, he meets retired drag queen Hugo/Loco Chanelle, who takes Jamie under their wing and supports him to start his own drag act at club night Legs 11. Of course, Jamie’s story is not one without antagonists and along the way, we see him face criticism and downright bullying by his despicable father, school thug Dean and teacher Miss Hedge. Through the story, Jamie learns so much about who he wants to be and teaches us that sometimes you have to ‘grab life by the balls, tuck those balls between your legs and put your best frock on’!

The music of this piece has a fantastic blend of upbeat, feel good songs like You Don’t Even Know It, emotional ballads like My Boy and Spotlight, and proud anthems like Over The Top. This was complimented beautifully by the choreography which had a contemporary and hip-hop style with a musical theatre flair. One performance stood out in particular during If I Met Myself Again, in which Kate Prince’s choreography perfectly captured Margaret’s youthful infatuation with a problematic man and the heartache of finding her love wasn’t what she thought after all. The music and lyrics by The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom Macrae take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and the performances truly did these songs justice; there was barely a dry eye in the house by the end of My Man, Your Boy.

For fans of the show, the set design was in keeping with the original London production. The simple staging made for quick and effective scene changes whilst also enabling the use of technology to enhance the ‘high school’ feel and drag reveal at the end of Act One. I also really enjoy having the band at the top of the stage; they aren’t always on display, but when they are their musical talents are highlighted as they well should be. 

The costume design on this production, by Anna Fleischle, is also fabulous, particularly for our wonderful drag performers and Kevin Clifton’s wonderful glitter number during the finale! 

My only slight improvement technically would be that the occasional lyric was missed when other sound levels were higher, but this was opening night at this venue so I’m sure will be easily edited.

In terms of performance, the entire cast were really on top form and whilst some performances stood out, this was a TALENTED ensemble and everyone really brought their A-game; their strength in dancing really stood out. At this particular performance, the role of Miss Hedge was played by cover Georgina Hagen in the place of Sam Bailey. It was a treat to witness her Miss Hedge; the utter contempt I felt towards her character throughout the story was tribute to her brilliant acting and at times she had the audience gasping aloud, particularly during Work of Art.

.Kevin Clifton (Hugo & Loco). Photo by Matt Crockett.

Ray was played by Sejal Keshwala. Ray has always been a favourite character of mine and Keshwala brought the perfect balance of empathy, fierce loyalty and humour to a brilliantly written role. Another stand out performance was that of Talia Palamathanan, who played Jamie’s best friend Pritti Pasha. She played the perfect more quiet counterpart to the over the top Jamie new and her rendition of Spotlight, my favourite song in the show, was stunning. There is one particular moment towards the show’s conclusion where Pritti really stands up for herself and her friend and is a real moment of empowerment for any one of us who has faced bullies in the past.

This moment has me in tears and cheering out loud every single time- this performance was no exception. Jordan Ricketts also gave a really believable performance in these moments as Dean, the school bully, and his arc of personal growth was clear to see.

Kevin Clifton plays retired performer Hugo/Loco Chanelle. Having seen and enjoyed Clifton’s work in Rock of Ages and of course Strictly Come Dancing for many years, I was intrigued as to how he would suit such a different role for him. I have to say that I was blown away with his performance, particularly in his moments as Hugo. His voice was stand out (there was a particular opt up moment in The Legend of Loco Chanelle that I ADORED) and he brought a real sense of authenticity to the role; he could be one of my favourite actors in this role yet! And yes, he looked fabulous in drag too!

Speaking of the queens themselves, what a trio of icons we had in Anthony Gyde, Gary Lee and David McNair as Laika Virgin, Sandra Bollock and Tray Sophisticay. These three performers had the audience on their feet and reminded me why I love the British drag scene so very much. Hilarious yet heartfelt!

If there’s one performer that deserved every standing ovation, it was Rebecca McKinnis as Margaret New. Her VOICE! She had the perfect blend of absolutely outstanding vocals with the raw emotion of being a single mum as her child grows up. She was likeable from her first moment on stage and you could feel the entire audience rooting for her even if her character’s choices were not always the cleverest ones.

Of course, leading the show was Ivano Turco as our Jamie. I have followed Turco since his role in Cinderella and again was intrigued by how he would approach such a different character. He brought us joy, sass, sensitivity and at times heart ache through his performance and how he can dance the way he does in those heels is something I could only ever aspire to! He also brought a different sound to this music, sometimes riffing and going in a new direction with these songs whilst still maintaining the heart of what they were saying. Again, the audience root for him from the off and the cheers and standing ovation he received at the show’s close were so very deserved.

Ivano Turco (Jamie New) and Talia Palamathanan (Pritti). Photo by Matt Crockett.

There’s something incredibly special about this show, whether that’s the knowledge that it is inspired by a simply wonderful true story or it’s beautifully inclusive atmosphere. As an audience member, you truly feel that you are in a place that you belong. A stand out quote from the show sums up beautifully the message the show brings and gives me goosebumps every time. Stop waiting for permission to be YOU.


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie plays at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton until 1st June before continuing on its UK tour. Tickets are available from

Suitable for ages 16+.

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