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The cast of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, West End production. Image: Johann Persson

What’s everybody talking about?

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie celebrates marginalized stories through pop culture

Hannah Worrall

Gone are the days of single gaze stories. Stories of one gender, one culture, one sexual orientation, one experience. The modern day storyteller is multifaceted, celebrating the once traditionally unheard experiences and bringing them to the forefront of pop culture, entertainment and the arts. 

The new hit West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, making its Australian debut at the Sydney Opera House this July, is a perfect example of how these stories come to life. These are complex storylines and characters that capture your heart. So, what is it about these shows that makes them so unique?

The characters

Powerful characters. Relatable characters. Lovable characters. Whether they are people we identify with, relationships we idolise, or new confronting experiences that leave us in shock and awe, it’s shows like this one that stick with you. The truly inspiring element of this production is that the characters are all real, based on the true story of a 16 year old boy and his modern “family” growing up in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. 

Thankfully in Jamie’s story he’s supported by a wonderful single mum, who does everything in her power to protect her child from a hateful world, but still struggles to stay financially afloat. He has his bestie 'Pritti', a young Muslim girl who encourages his dream of drag stardom, but faces her own challenges from the cultural divide. 

Finally, there is Jamie’s mentor and friend, 'Hugo' (aka ‘Loco Chanelle’), once a shining star of the drag scene, now a small town shop owner. Stories that were once cast aside are now the hallmark of successful entertainment – real, honest representation on stage and screen.


The cast of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, West End production. Image: Johann Persson

The challenges

Bringing minority experiences into the collective consciousness also means bringing their struggles. In a world that has until now ignored or swept aside that which is unwanted or upsetting, it is important to share the real side of the story. 

The power in this lies in human connection. In showing the real impact that hate, discrimination and judgement has on the individuals being persecuted. You can feel the palpable heartbreak on stage as Jamie is emotionally and physically bullied by his school, his peers, even his own father; pressured to hide who he is from the world and not live his truth. For the audience, it’s a gut-wrenching look into the world that teens live in now, and a warning for those who turn a blind eye. 


 
Jamie (John McCrea) and Pritti (Lucie Shorthouse) in the West End production of Everybody's Talking About Jamie. Image: Alastair Muir

The emotion

You can feel the power of these stories; they are emotional, they are intense. Filled with love, hope, joy, loss, pain, and acceptance. Not only do these stories capture your heart, but they stay with you, well beyond the experience in the theatre, or in front of a screen. It happens particularly in this production – the music rings in your ears and the message sticks to you like glue. From the inspiring songs of friendship like “Spotlight”, to beautiful songs of realisation like “The Wall in My Head” and powerful ballads such as the heart-stopping “He’s My Boy”. The message of this show is clear - be who you are, no matter what. Shine as bright as you can and always step into your spotlight.  

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will premiere at the Sydney Opera House from 18 July before touring nationally.

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