Wednesday, December 13, 2017

British Theater – “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”

John McCrea

New York Times - Ben Brantley - BRANTLEY IN BRITAIN NOV. 22, 2017

John McCrea, as the boy who wants nothing more than to wear a dress to his school prom, (I can relate to that) in “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.” Photo credit Johan Persson        

Most of the characters in “Follies” no longer know who they are, if they ever really did. So it was kind of comforting, two days later, to come across a 16-year-old boy who seemed to be precociously sure of his identity.

That’s the title character of “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” first staged at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield. Based on a 2011 television documentary, this determinedly inspirational show, which opened at the Apollo Theater in London on Wednesday night, arrives with perfect timing.

Just two weeks earlier, the Church of England issued a statement saying that children should be allowed to experiment with “the many cloaks of identity,” especially involving gender, “without expectation or comment.” Such advice has already been fully embraced by the leading lad (the pale and long-stemmed John McCrea) of “Jamie,” written by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae and directed by Jonathan Butterell.

Jamie has always known that he was destined to be a drag queen, a goal in which he has been encouraged by his self-sacrificing, blue-collar mother, Margaret (Josie Walker, who inevitably sings a number of bottomless love called “He’s My Boy”). Yes, there are obstacles.

Jamie’s absentee father (Ken Christiansen) is a disapproving macho brute. And there is a classroom bully (Luke Baker), who tries to puncture Jamie’s pastel dreams. But all the other students — including Jamie’s best friend, the hijab-wearing Pritti (a very good Lucie Shorthouse) — seem thoroughly schooled in the creeds of diversity and inclusivity.

They really want him to be able to wear a dress to his school prom, despite objections from a hidebound teacher and a few parents. Along the way, Jamie sings of his plight in numbers both snappy and sappy, annotated with improbably extended legs and graceful vogueing.

And I don’t think it’s a spoiler to reveal that he makes it to the prom, looking like a virgin in a sweet white dress. (His sex life, by the way, is never discussed.) Having seen “Follies” a few nights earlier, though, I couldn’t help wondering how Jamie might regard his glamorously girlish self a few decades down the line. Enjoy it while you can, kid.


Are there any readers in London that want to give us a review - Sounds like a great "Escape" night.

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