Wednesday, April 24, 2024

L.A. Theater: “Everybody’s Talking about Jamie” Comes from London with Soaring Songs and Lots of Heart


“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” at downtown Los Angeles’s Ahmanson Theater is a mash up of “Kinky Boots,” “Billy Elliot” with a bit of “Hairspray” and “The Prom” thrown in. Yet it is simply unique and a truly extraordinary theater experience.

Sensational and heartfelt, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” has been a hit musical in the West End and just premiered at the Ahmanson. The musical was also adapted as a film currently on Amazon.  Based on a true story, the musical, directed by Jonathan Butterell (he also directed the film) takes place in a public housing development in the Yorkshire town of Sheffield, England.

Jamie, played wonderfully and cheekily by Layton Williams, is a 16-year-old boy who with every fiber of his talented being desperately wants to be a drag queen. He already has a name, Mimi Me, and and a dress to wear to the upcoming prom.  Three mega-talented women adore lucky Jamie.  First his supportive mom, Margaret, who is always by his side.  Melissa Jacques plays her and she gives literally one of the most heartfelt performances I’ve ever seen with a voice to match. Their fiercely loyal family friend Ray, is played feistily funny by Shobna Gulati.  The third is Jamie’s Muslim BFF Pritti, played just stunningly by Hiba Elchikhe.  There is also a drag queen Miss Loco Chanelle, with his/her better days behind them, the terrific “Drag Race” star Bianca DelRio.

This rag tag bunch all circle their supportive wagons to bolster Jamie forward to his glamorous goal. Throw in a trio some over the top (is there any other kind), drag queens played marvelously by David O’Reilly, James Gillan and Leon Craig.  The score soars with catchy songs that are poignant, pop culture-y and fun. composed by Dan Gillespie Sells, lead singer-songwriter of the UK rock band “The Feeling.” Book and lyrics are by Tom MacRae.   Kate Prince’s choreography is equally as striking.

The theme of love and self -acceptance hits every note pitch perfectly.  Melissa Jacques has a ballad in the second act “He’s My Boy,” that brought the audience to their  feet.  Her love for her son from the deepest recesses of her heart shines through every note.  This is a performance for the theater ages.  She’s that good.  Sparkly, meaningful and fun “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie “is a triumphant joyful hit and surely Broadway bound where it will no doubt receive the adoration it already has over the pond and now in LA. The Ahmanson Theatre is an LA treasure.  Kudos to the Center Theatre Group!

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is playing at the Ahmanson Theatre through Feb 20th.

Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney writes from Los Angeles for A seasoned journalist with a long history during the halcyon days of the NY Daily News, Leah is a member of the Critics Choice and Rotten Tomatoes.

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