Everybody's Talking About Jamie: A Joyous Drag Show
1/13/2021 • 4 min read
One of 2021’s potential breakout hits is a movie that many people might not even have heard of yet. EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE is based on a stage musical of the same name and is scheduled to come out later this year from 20th Century Studios, which is now part of Disney.
It's a musical coming of age story with big, brassy songs and a devoted cult following. With a creative roster that includes the show's original creators, EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE feels like the type of little movie that could turn into a big success. Let’s delve into the history of the stage show and look at how it made its way to the big screen.
Before the Play
The stage show that became EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE is actually based on a documentary that aired on British television, called "Jamie: Drag Queen at 16." The stage musical took cues from the documentary as it explored the kind of heartbreak, frustration, and torment that follows a young boy who becomes a drag queen. Both versions look at ideas about identity, gender politics, and societal norms, all in a fun way with the drama accompanied by some wonderful songs. Sounds pretty fabulous, no?
A Very British Stage Show
The show has two acts and 22 songs and premiered at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on February 13, 2017. (So close to Valentine’s Day! Awww!) By the end of February, it had closed in Sheffield, with much of the cast transferring to London’s West End at the Apollo Theatre that November. The show was a commercial and critical smash (the Times gave it five stars and compared it to a similar runaway hit, DEAR EVAN HANSEN) and has been playing on the West End ever since. (There was a hiatus from March to December, however, due to the coronavirus outbreak.)
This feels like a show that is now an absolute staple of British theater. There was even a touring version (which again started in Sheffield) that was cut prematurely short due to the pandemic. Hopefully, that will be up again soon. Jamie needs to visit more spots around England and indeed the world. The show led to a concept album, based on the music of the show, featuring English pop staples Betty Boo and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. It's truly the most British phenomenon since Harry Potter cast his spell.
An Earlier Movie (Sort Of)
In July 2018, a filmed version of the musical was simulcast to theaters in England and Ireland. It was advertised as a “live broadcast to cinema,” with the play being dubbed ”the hit musical of our times.” And while it wasn’t technically a movie (there was no adaptation process and it was more of a live experience than anything else), Jamie has already begun to make the movie theater his home.
Now, the Official Adaptation!
An adaptation of the stage show was announced way back in 2018 (seems like an eternity ago now, doesn’t it?) Jonathan Butterell, who was involved in the original stage show, would direct the project in his directorial debut. Tom MacRae, who wrote the book and lyrics for the original show, would return to pen the script. The movie version began filming in Sheffield (again!) on June 24, 2019, with a cast that includes Max Harwood, Sarah Lancashire, Lauren Patel, Shobna Gulati, Ralph Ineson, Adeel Akhtar, Samuel Bottomley, Sharon Horgan, and Richard E. Grant. Specifics of which songs have been cut (or if there are any additional numbers) have yet to be revealed, although the movie feels like it could have the potential to be a crossover hit along the lines of something like the recent musical THE GREATEST SHOWMAN.
The Show Must Go On
Thanks to the events of 2020, a couple of release dates have been proposed and then changed, but EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE is set to be released in 2021. The world needs Jamie!
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All images courtesy of 20th Century Studios.