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Everyone Loves Jamie – CYGAMS, Chelmsford

Guest Reviewer - Christine Adams Davidson 

From a book and lyrics by Tom Macrae and Music by Dan Gillespie Sells, this musical tells the true-life story of 16-year-old Jamie Campbell and his journey to becoming a Drag Queen!

NODA Award winning Young Gen have smashed it yet again with this visually, energy driven, colourful show. With a great ensemble and fantastic leads this show deserves full houses every night. If you haven’t bought a ticket then get one and see these young people really rocking the stage.

Award winning Director Jimmy Hooper has obviously worked incredibly hard to drill this company to a professional level. Not once did I see anyone out of step. The choreography was super and really made this show sparkle.

The beautiful set was entirely made by the crew, with a raised dais for the large orchestra and lighting boxes all the way across the stage which constantly changed colour, while giving plenty of room for the cast to move and dance well. The supportive lighting was also good. The kitchen and bathroom set were pulled on and off by the cast, as were the simple props. Again the cast did this seamlessly which they are to be commended for. Musical Director Bryan Cass, who was again directing the eight other musicians, never overpowered the singers, interpreting the music very well.

The lead role of Jamie was given to Elliott Greaves who was super in the role. His characterisation was top notch. Maybe a little wobbly on some of his notes at the beginning but he totally ruled the stage, from his opening song ‘And You Don’t Even Know it’ to his final, totally joyful exit. Oozing confidence and stage presence he showed just how talented an actor he was with great mannerisms and body movements.

Hayden Wagland as faded drag queen, Hugo/Loco Chanelle gave us yet another superb performance. This is his last show with Young Gen and he has shown, how over the years he has matured as a fabulous, confident actor, who would grace any show. I look forward to seeing him again on stage soon.

A stand out performance by Phoebe Hooper, as Pritti Pasha, the kind, supportive best friend of Jamie. She created a totally believable character on stage with a strong clear singing voice. From the start of her entrance both of us commented on just how good she was in the role. Well done Phoebe, you showed just how difficult it was to deal with being at school from a Muslim background on a road to self-discovery. You rocked this role!

The lead roles kept getting better with Bethany Irvine playing the role of Margaret New the mother, with her friend Ray (Olivia Surgett) supporting her. As the kind supportive loving mum of Jamie she has raised Jamie single handedly, after the father had disowned them because of Jamie’s sexuality and whose new partner is now having a baby boy.

There is always difficult in playing a much older character amongst actors of your own age but this she did with great assurance and self-confidence. Her song ‘He’s my Boy’ was heart rending, tender and brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful voice this young lady has. Well done. Her girlfriend Ray also did the show proud being almost the second mum to Jamie. Together they were a great team.

Miss Hedge (Daisy Middleton) ruled the school children as the strict, straight talking teacher in fabulous black stiletto heels. Again a very confident performance.

Joe Papalie as bully boy Dean Paxton and Arran Mukherjee as Jamie’s Dad both showed their fine acting skills as the villains of the piece.

The three drag queens were wonderful, sashaying their way across the stage and making this such a fun show. We had, Sandra Bollock/Other Woman – Oliver Blowers; Laika Virgin /Young Loco/Chanelle - Finlay Adams and Tray Sophisticay/John - Hugo Kalair, in these fabulous roles. Well done all of you. I understand from Jimmy you were given a workshop from a professional drag queen on just how to walk in those very high heels. It worked, as you were all amazing.

The ensemble were superb and just as important as the leads, being engaged on stage throughout the whole show they were engaged, involved and gave this show the pizazz it needs. Congratulations to you all.

This show was a joy to watch and deserves full houses. Its only on till the end of the week so if you want a feel good fabulous night out get along to the Civic Theatre and grab a ticket. You won’t be disappointed.

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