Right now, the Everybody’s Talking About Jamie trailer is strutting across cyberspace in six-inch stilettos. But before you glitter up and dive headlong into the ultimate story of empowerment, here’s everything you need to know about the hit-musical-turned-feelgood-film.
Let's have some backstory. Schoolboy and aspiring drag artist Jamie wasn’t dreamt up in a writers’ room – his jaw-dropping story is fact, not fiction.
Now in his early twenties, the ‘real’ Jamie Campbell still remembers the struggles of his adolescence in a tough County Durham mining village, and the merciless bullying he sparked by coming out as gay aged 14 and deciding to wear a dress to his school prom. Back in 2011, BBC Three filmed a documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen At 16, that captured his bravery and resilience in the face of bans, bullies and beatings.
But that was just the start…
A one-off doc could never do justice to a character as big, bold and irrepressible as Jamie.
In 2017, inspired by his rocky road from school to spotlight, lyricist Tom MacRae and composer Dan Gillespie Sells unveiled the feel-good musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, managing to fuse deep themes of homophobia, prejudice, self-discovery and salvation with a score that had punters dancing in the aisles on a smash-hit national run.
“Everybody should be talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” wrote Mark Shenton of The Stage. “This new British musical is by turns courageous and outrageous…”
If you cheered the Jamie musical to the rafters, you’ll be thrilled to discover that director Jonathan Butterell has infused the film adaptation with the same exuberance. The first trailer announces a movie that cranks up the feel-good, following Jamie as he grows from square-peg school outcast to the stage-prowling drag royalty he was born to be.
On the flipside, like a higher-stakes Billy Elliot, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie doesn’t shrink from the hard knocks and tough questions, exploring the toxic ignorance that often rises to meet those who dare to be different from the pack, and Jamie’s broken relationship with his disapproving father.
“In a world that can seem so divided, Everybody's Talking About Jamie is ultimately a story of community, eventually coming together to celebrate all of our unique differences.” Jonathan Butterell
If you haven’t heard of Max Harwood – remember the name. The graduate of London’s Urdang Academy is a sensation in the title role, nailing the outrageousness, devilish humour and vulnerability of Jamie.
Lauren Patel brings head and heart to proceedings as Jamie’s confidante, Pritti Pasha. Look out for The Office’s Ralph Ineson as the boy’s fuming father, and Catastrophe star Sharon Horgan as the world’s smallest-minded careers officer.
Fancy a little more star-power? Richard E. Grant is grizzled drag veteran, Loco Chanelle. “A drag queen should be feared,” he advises Jamie. “You won’t believe the power it gives you…”
Nominated for the Outstanding Achievement In Music at the Laurence Olivier Awards of 2018, Dan Gillespie Sells’ score captures the dizzy highs (and heart-bruising lows) of Jamie’s awakening.
Sharing a little of Rocketman’s blur of fantasy and reality, you can expect set-pieces that burst off the screen, whether that’s a joyous street dance set to the anthemic And You Don’t Even Know, or the show-stopping encore, Out Of The Darkness (A Place Where We Belong).
“But it’s hard to have favourites,” explains Butterell. “Each song is a delight in its own way…”
Watch this space for more news as Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and its' 26 February 2021 release date approaches.