Dan Gukkespie Sells and Tom McRae, based on an original idea by Jonathan Butterell
Nica Burns, Ian Osborne, TC Beech Ltd, a Sheffield Theatres Production
The Lowry, Salford Quays
September 1-12, 2021
Feelgood, funny and fabulous - if ever there was a show that theatregoers needed right now, this is it.
Everybody's Talking About Jamie is the true story of a teenage boy who wanted to wear a dress to his school prom, and the obstacles he had to overcome to do it. It's a tale of one boy's bravery and a mother's love, and the reminder that you don't need anyone's permission to be yourself.
It's particularly nice to see that the A* cast contains so much North West talent, which adds to the celebratory feel of the evening at Salford's Lowry, reopening its Lyric Theatre for the first big budget musical since the start of the pandemic.
Director Matt Ryan's pacy production is packed with songs that flit from making you want to dance along in your seat, to shedding a few tears, in an instant.
Bury's Layton Williams reprises the lead role of Jamie New that he played in the West End with a touching mix of confident defiance and under-the-surface vulnerability; between the fabulous high kicks and fierce one-liners, Williams gives us poignant glimpses of a young man who just wants his dad's approval.
Manchester theatregoers may remember Amy Ellen RIchardson from her role as the Baker's Wife in The Royal Exchange's Into The Woods a few years ago, and the part of Jamie's devoted mum Margaret is made for her. Her portrayal is full of heart and humour and her Act II showstopper He's My Boy had many reaching for their tissues.
Former Corrie star and stage regular Shobna Gulati gets many of the best lines as down-to-earth family friend Ray (a role reprised in the forthcoming movie version) and is a clear audience favourite.
Warrington's Britain's Got Talent winner, dancer and actor George Sampson, impresses in the supporting role of menacing school bully Dean.
Sharan Phull brings warmth and wit to Pritti, Jamie's best friend at school; their "high achieving meets high heels" double act is absolutely believable and lovely to watch.
And Shane Ritchie is great as Hugo/Loco Chanelle, the world-weary drag queen who's seen it all but takes Jamie under his wing and helps him take his first fabulously heeled steps into the world of drag.
The rest of the (welcomely diverse) cast is faultless – with everyone grabbing a moment in the spotlight with a funny line or via Kate Prince's punchy choreography.
Everybody's Talking About Jamie is a gem of a show that sparkles as brightly as the sequins on Jamie's killer heels – and the perfect tonic for the times we're in. It's at the Lowry until 12 September, then touring.
Ticket info here