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Everybody's Talking About Jamie - Norwich Theatre (24.06.2024)

Guest review by April Nash

The theatre was packed with an enthusiastic audience, undeterred by the scorching weather. The evening kicked off with a sombre grey set, perfectly setting the tone for the characters' environment, with the opening scene truly capturing the tone of voice from rowdy teens in a classroom. It’s not until the teacher Miss Hedge (Sam Bailey) calls out Jamie New (Finton Flynn) for daydreaming that we even notice our lead character for the evening.

And what a dream Finton Flynn was, his performance equal parts vulnerable and excited, he drew the audience in from the moment he started sashaying across the stage in ‘And You Don’t Even Know It’. A demanding role that he took full advantage of with not a moment on stage wasted. He made it look effortless, and the anger in ‘Ugly in This Ugly World’ truly showed off his acting range whilst maintaining incredible note-perfect, yet heartbreaking, riffs is just a testament to his talents and hard work. What struck me the most about his portrayal was the sincerity with which he embodied Jamie. Clearly, I wasn't alone in this sentiment, as the audience erupted in a well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the show.

Opposite Flynn was Rebecca McGinnis as Jamie's devoted mother, Margret. With each scene, McGinnis garnered more investment from the crowd. There were audible gasps and sympathetic murmurs during all of her heart-wrenching moments. Her rendition of "He's my Boy" was emotionally charged and powerful, a challenging song that she delivered with conviction and soaring vocals.

The choreography in the show was exceptional, showcasing contemporary and fluid movements. The entire supporting cast exuded joy and left a lasting impression. I particularly enjoyed the duet during "If I Met Myself Today" performed by Jessica Daugirda and Joshian Angelo Omana.

I loved each one of the drag queen performances, and the campy rendition of ‘The Legend of Loco Chanelle’ with Hugo (Kevin Clifton) being a joy to watch whenever he entered on stage. The chemistry among all the performers was fast-paced and joyful, and in my opinion, a show can never have too many drag queens. Hugo, as Jamie's new drag mother/mentor, steps up to support his dream and impart some valuable life lessons and Clifton delivered the part with style and substance.

Pritti and Ray were fantastic supporting characters, both literally and figuratively. They jumped in to support our mother and son duo, with Ray always ready with a sassy joke and Pritti winning over the audience when she takes on hers and Jamie’s bullies. Sam Bailey's portrayal of Miss Hedge, the exasperated teacher who goes a bit too far in teaching Jamie a lesson, was convincing, and her voguing was sensational.

My only critique of the performance is that there were a few instances where it was difficult to hear the lyrics of the songs, particularly in 'Limited Edition Prom Night Special.' It was a shame because it was a fun number. Additionally, I felt that the second Act had too many ballads in quick succession, but I understand that it contributes to a heightened happy ending, which was well worth the wait.

If you're looking for an evening filled with unconditional love, self-discovery, and energetic teens (and drag queens), I highly recommend heading to Norwich Theatre Royal to experience the most fearless show in town.


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