So why IS everyone Talking about Jamie?

Alastair Muir

West End musical around the world is Talking About Jamie became a feature film, it has been announced.

The show – about a young 16 year old boy from Sheffield who wants to be a drag queen – has also just had its run at London’s Apollo Theatre extended.

The musical was inspired by a BBC Three documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 years of age.

Warp Films, who are behind films such as Tyrannosaur – starring Olivia Colman – and the TV series This is England, will adapt the musical.

The story was produced after 15 years, Jamie Campbell wanted to wear a dress to his school prom.

Speaking to BBC News after the film adaptation was announced, Jamie said: “I was jealous that all the girls that I have to go to the prom in these amazing, glamorous dresses.

“I spoke with my mother about this and she said, ‘Well, why not use it also?”

The Other Richard

“I was worried for my safety, if I went through with it, so I thought that what I needed was a film crew and no one was going to touch me.”

Jamie sent a film from pitch to various TV production companies, finally getting a documentary commissioned, that he continued on his way – and was broadcast by the BBC.

This, in turn, was adapted into a musical, which played at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre.

“I thought it was going to be a small community in the program,” says Jamie. “I had no idea that was going to be as big as it was, even in the Melting pot. I was crying when I saw it.

“And now it turned into a movie – I absolutely cannot believe it! This is so crazy”.

Nica Burns, who is the producer of the West End production, saw the show on his last performance of a 19-night run at the Crucible.

“I cried two times when he saw me and jumped out singing and dancing – there were the grandmothers and the children in the audience, just all sorts of different people,” she recalls.

“I went straight into the lobby, and told the team behind it, I wanted to take the show to London. And there, I offered them a theater to show.

“That was the first time for me – I normally stop and think.”

Johan Persson

Everybody is Talking about Jamie has seen a successful and critically acclaimed of the transfer to the West End – receiving five Olivier nominations earlier this year – with The Keeper of the flame “an effervescence, a feeling of instant success”, and The Daily Telegraph predicting it to “become a cult classic”.

Marianka Swain – the united kingdom, editor-in-chief of Broadway World, told the BBC: “After seeing dozens of West End shows, it felt like a breath of fresh air.”

“I loved it”, he adds. “It’s one of those joy of feel-good shows.

“It has a strong message but leads to the light” she says, attributing his success in part to its “bright working-class Sheffield script” and “surprisingly diverse cast”.

“The central message about love and acceptance means a lot to people. And the story is not about the main character that comes from the outside, but to be able to express themselves fully. I really think it shows how far we have come.

“I think that is going to translate very well as a movie. People seem to be lapping up music at the time. Look at the success of The Big Shows.”

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Mark Shenton, theatre critic and associate editor of The Stage – which has seen the show seven times – has noticed the same thing: “there has been a resurgence in the musical and this one has all the ingredients to make a great movie.

“The fact that this is about to come full circle – from the beginning as a documentary that is now making a film, it is rather a delicious idea.

“It’s a great show, with an amazing message to live your life without people judging you. It is a true story, original and rare that something so new as to be made into a film,” says Shenton.

Nica Burns agrees: “We are all delighted! This is very unusual – it is very early in the program’s history to be made into a film.

“Look at the likes of Mamma Mia and Les Mis, and that was the music that had been around for years and was in the public consciousness.

“But this is new music of a new writing team -so it really is amazing.”

The lyrics and music are written by the singer-songwriter Tom McRae and The Feeling Dan Gillespie Sells, who are new to musical theatre.

In fact, Gillespie earned an Olivier nomination for outstanding achievement in music for his debut as a musical theatre composer and orchestrator.

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“It’s a real Brit history,” adds Burns. “Right now there are not a lot of good news and this is a very happy, cheerful thing to happen – that reflects the message in the music itself.”

Jamie Campbell says that the best part of the whole experience is the number of people that the show has helped.
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“With the music, it’s touched so many people. I have had hundreds and hundreds of messages from people who it resonated with. Some people said that it had even been suicidal and I have been told that the show has helped them.

“And now you are going to have a much wider audience, for what is expected to be able to help many more people. It is the best thing.”

Jamie says he’s going to be working as a consultant on the film, adding that he is waiting for the director is to find your way to give you a little “cameo”.

“I could not have dreamed of this,” he says. “I’ve always had an active imagination, but that he had thought all of this was going to happen..?”

Everybody is Talking about Jamie is showing at the Apollo Theatre until April 2019.

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