The BBC documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 suggested to director Jonathan Butterell that the story of Durham schoolboy Jamie Campbell could form the basis of a musical
Enter composer Dan Gillespie Sells and lyricist Tom Macrae.
Opening in a classroom, Year 11 assemble and begin one of a number of mesmerisingly intricate dance routines that that characterise Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Jamie asserts that he intends to grace the school prom wearing a dress. The plot then revolves around his entry into the world of Drag and the rock like support of his mother, Margaret.
Despite the sequins and glitter, the show could easily be seen as the story of dowdy Margaret. Played by Josie Walker, with a stunning voice that projects power and subtlety, she sings a show-stopper of a number in He’s My Boy.
Jamie himself (John McCrea) successfully engages, then alienates, then wins back the audience as he recoils from his teacher’s (Tamsin Carroll) recommended career of fork lift truck driver.
However, it is Jamie’s friend in a hijab, Pritti Pasha played by Lucie Shorthouse, who fully confirms that every member of this cast can land songs with style.
At the end, a clearly distraught Jamie Campbell and mother Margaret shared the standing ovation with the cast. We can only hope that the show helped the real Jamie in resolving some of the issues depicted on stage. Perhaps not for everyone, this is nevertheless a powerful evening in the theatre.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie runs at Sheffield Crucible until Saturday February 25.
Tickets: 0114 249 6000.