Well what can I say, having seen this show before I knew I was in for a good time! This show won Best New Musical at the What’s onstage awards 2017 and its not hard to see why!
For anyone who doesn’t know this show, it’s based on the true life story of Jamie Campbell who at 16 years old knew his calling in life was to be a Drag Queen. The show follows Jamie through the first few months after his 16th birthday on his journey of self discovery. It has been based on a BBC3 documentary ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’ first shown in 2011.
Firstly I have to commend Dan Gillespie Sells for the outstanding music, and Tom Macrae for the lyrics and book. Every song has a different style yet they all fit together so well. From the upbeat and modern sound of ‘And you don’t even know it’ to the slow heart wrenching ballad ‘He’s my boy’ I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house at the end of the latter.
The songs in this show really are the stand out thing for me, the lyrics are comedic in places and heartbreaking in others, you can’t help but sing them on your way home.
The choreography is very well thought out in this piece, as a choreographer Kate Prince really knows what she’s doing, one minute there’s breakdancing next there’s a very contemporary and moving duet. The style changes so effortlessly throughout the piece and every movement tells a story.
The staging of this piece is incredibly clever, you’re instantly transported from a classroom to a kitchen then onto a back yard which magically transforms to a clothes shop in an instant. Great design work by Anna Fleischle. This piece really gets the use of video media correct, many shows try and fail to incorporate digital media but this piece does it seamlessly.
The character of Jamie is so brilliantly brought to life by John McCrea who makes his west end leading role debut in this piece. John is an absolute star and by God don’t we know it. He’s approached Jamie with the perfect amount of sass, vulnerability and heartwarming nievety. If John doesn’t go far following this role I’ll be very surprised.
Jamie’s mum in this evenings show was brilliantly portrayed by Rebecca McKinnis who gave a truly breathtaking performance. You truly felt the love she had for her son and it was a performance that really pulled on your heartstrings.
The 3 drag queens (Alex Anstey, Daniel Jacob and James Gillan) aren’t given enough stage time for my liking, but the actors sure do make the most of the little time they have in the spotlight, they bring the true drag queen grit to the piece never failing to make me laugh with their crass behaviours.
Finally I have to give mention to the supporting chorus, every member stood out in their own special way and really brought the piece together. When they are all on stage you’re spoilt for choice as to where to place your attention.
It’s a great show and huge well done to everyone involved! I will happily admit, I am in love with this piece, you can’t help but feel empowered and like you can take on the world when you come out of the theatre and as Jamie puts it ‘sometimes you have to grab life by the balls, then tuck those balls between your legs and put on your best fucking dress!’
I encourage anyone who has the chance, to go and see this show, you honestly won’t regret it. Its currently booking up until October 6th 2018.