The critically-acclaimed musical, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, tours the UK for a second time, stopping at The Alhambra where Leo Owen caught the show

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, is an uplifting modern fairy-tale Director and co-writer Jonathan Butterell stumbled across after catching the 2011 BBC documentary, Jamie Drag Queen at 16. Sharing Jamie’s working-class roots, Butterell instantly saw the potential to adapt this inspirational real-life Cinderella story for the theatre. Quickly enlisting The Feeling’s frontman, Dan Gillespie Sells, to write the music and vocals, they teamed up with Tom Macrae in developing the story and lyrics, moving the action to Sheffield. Butterell’s chance discovery was a fast favourite, moving from page to stage in an impressive three years and from Sheffield’s Crucible to London’s West End.

At its centre is of course Jamie (Evano Tucco), the titular hero of the story, a school boy who dreams of becoming a drag queen and wearing a dress to his school leaver’s prom. His mum, Margaret (Rebecca McKinnis), and her best friend, Ray (Sejal Keshwala), are the best cheerleaders a teen could ask for, supporting his every dream. While they exude positively, not everyone in Jamie’s life matches their enthusiasm with school bully, Dean (Jordan Ricketts), trying to chip away at Jamie’s sunny disposition, and his father (Akshay St Clair) cruelly disowning him, refusing to accept his sexuality.

Gillespie Sells’ feel good score dabbles in genres, emulating contemporary pop for numbers performed by younger cast and soul for older characters. The title track is reminiscent of The Feeling’s own first album, Twelve Stops and Home, in its energetic high vibe melodies.

Butterell and Macrae generously ensure all main characters are given a moment to shine with unanimously strong performances. Tucco gives a heartfelt solo in “Wall In My Head” while Jamie’s best friend, Pritti (Talia Palamathanan) sings the empowering “It Means Beautiful”, attempting to allay self-doubts. McKinnis is especially moving performing “He’s My Boy”, the true heart of the story, but interpretative dance accompanying “If I Met Myself Again” detracts. Ray (Sejal Keshwala) has dedicated stage time with “Limited Edition Prom Night Special” giving a strong performance and even Jamie’s teacher, Miss Hedge (Sam Bailey) is given voice in “Work of Art”.

It is however, Kevin Clifton’s performance as Hugo that steals the show. As the proprietor of Victor’s Secret and ex- drag performer, Hugo acts as Jamie’s mentor, performing a blinder when they first meet. Reminiscent of a Divine Comedy track in its narrative feel, “The Legend of Coco Chanelle (And the Blood Red Dress)”, tells the backstory of Hugo’s old drag persona, providing Jamie with plenty of food for thought.

Anna Fleischle’s design effortlessly moves between locations using slick revolving set pieces: the desks at Jamie’s school rotate to form the wall on his street and whole kitchen units fold out for interior scenes. A screen at the back brings Jamie’s dreams to life and Victor’s Secret seamlessly pops up with light changes and rails discreetly wheeled on. All the while, above the stage a seven-piece band visibly perform on a platform, volume occasionally encroaching on the vocals.

Energising and empowering, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, is sure to win over even the most jaded theatre-goer. Earning a well-earned standing ovation, its final line “In this space where we belong” leaves its audience feeling part of Jamie’s journey, reinforcing the show’s inclusive message of love, hope and faith.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie showed at The Alhambra 1st-6th July before continuing its tour.