The Musical Every Teenager Is Talking About

The Musical Every Teenager Is Talking About

Musicals have a strong nostalgic resonance with me, reminding me of my own teenage years and many a happy trip to London with my parents to take in the latest show.  Love them or hate them they are a big part of London's theatre culture and hard to ignore regardless of your proclivity.  The one that every teenager is talking about at the moment, is Jamie.

Inspired by a real-life story of a teenage boy from County Durham, the musical has its roots in a BBC3  documentary called Jamie - Drag Queen at 16.

I first heard about the musical whilst listening to an interview between Jamie and his mother Margaret and Jenni Murray on Woman's Hour.  It was touching to hear how his mother, who had been on her own for much of his childhood, had not only stood by him but gone out of her way to encourage him to be true to himself.

When Jamie came out to his mother at the age of 14 he declared he was bisexual in a misguided attempt to make it easier for Margaret, however, she told him "not to be greedy...you are gay."  She is clearly not the type of woman to look at the world through rose-tinted spectacles.

The real Jamie's self-confidence was so evident in the interview and this was portrayed beautifully in the musical characterisation by actor John McCrea. From the outset he is presented as a young man sure of his own identity in a way which many teenagers are invariably not and this was clearly due in no small part to the unswerving love and support of his mother, who he describes not surprisingly as his rock.

Their  relationship lies at the centre of this musical and demonstrates wholeheartedly, the unconditional love of a parent for their child and the lengths they will go to in order to guarantee their happiness.  What parent can't relate to that?

At the heart of Jamie's story and therefore that of the musical is Jamie's ambition to be a drag queen and to wear a dress to his school prom.  As with any gritty British tale of conquering adversity there are, however, obstacles along the way to Jamie realising his dream, not least the battle to overcome prejudice around him.  There is after all, a world of difference between sporting peroxide hair and being flamboyant in your appearance and openly wearing a dress.

A teenage plot without prejudice at its core wouldn't be complete without that ever popular teenage theme of bullying.  This is present in two characters.  First there is the school thug who struggling with his own sense of identity seeks to provoke and intimidate Jamie at every opportunity.  There is, however, no real conflict between them as Jamie is so steadfast in his confidence that he easily overcomes the bully's verbal assaults with acerbic and humorous dialogue, of the kind that every parent worldwide hopes their own teenager will be able to summon up to defend themselves.

This approach is not, however, so successful with the second antagonist, Jamie's absent father, a man who clearly struggles with his son not being the kind of man he wants him to be.  Shielded from this throughout his life by his mother, Jamie is lost for words in the face of his aggressive assaults when he misguidedly turns up unexpectedly to thank him for the symbolic red birthday shoes that provide the basis for his first drag queen performance. This is the only time you see Jamie crumble and in real life there is no contact between the pair.

The other theme within the play that I loved was the value of female friendship.  Margaret's dear friend Ray is there for her every step of the way, listening, advising and acting as a mummy double to Jamie when he has his rare moments of doubt.  As a mother and a female, it's another thread that gives you that feel good factor, the kind that makes your toes curl and forces you to think who would be that person in your life.

Overall the musical is vibrant, energetic, witty and sassy and what John McCrea can do in those red stilettos puts many a heel obsessed woman to shame.  More importantly, however, in a world where it is no longer politically correct to make gay comments, Jamie is bang up to date with its nod to gender politics.  The unapologetic hilarity of its campness smacks you in the face and invites you to laugh out loud.  For me and maybe other parents in the auditorium it was reminiscent of the good time feel of a night at the infamous Madame Jojo's.  For the teenagers it enforced the need to stand up for themselves and offered a glimpse into another world where anything is possible. All in all if you have teenagers in the house it is an absolute must see.

Jamie - The Musical Every Teen Is Talking About

I love to hear your views and comments.  Are you a fan of musicals? Have you seen Jamie? If not do you think you might?

 

 

 

 

Mum Muddling Through

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32 Comments

  1. April 30, 2018 / 7:06 pm

    I haven’t heard of this musical, but it sounds great! I have a teen and am often looking for things we can do together. I will check it out. #coolmumclub

    • Jo
      Author
      May 1, 2018 / 5:36 pm

      It can be so hard with teenagers to find something that you will both enjoy doing together and I have found the theatre for us is a definite winner and this musical is a lot of fun. I am sure you would both enjoy it. It would be lovely to see you at our linky #TweensTeensBeyond if you ever feel like joining us. Thanks for your comment.

  2. April 27, 2018 / 12:53 pm

    This was so useful Jo. I am very fussy about musicals, it has to be something very special to attract me. This sounds like something that I would enjoy and my teens would love it I’m sure. As you know, we live a long way from London but we have been talking about a family trip to see a show this summer. Your post was really useful – I’ll get my girls to read it. Sounds like it will give us much to discuss on the way home, which is always a good thing! xx #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      May 1, 2018 / 5:48 pm

      Oh you are the same as me Sharon. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with them – maybe I overdid them as a teenager! If I hadn’t heard the interview on R4 I probably wouldn’t have gone but am glad I did as it was so on point as my teens would say! x #TweensTeensBeyond

  3. April 27, 2018 / 10:35 am

    I hadn’t heard of this, and with it being British, I’m sure some of that grit is hugely emotional! Sounds like a great watch. #coolmumclub

    • Jo
      Author
      May 1, 2018 / 5:52 pm

      Yes you are right, it was very emotionally charged. Thanks for reading. #coolmumclub

  4. April 26, 2018 / 8:59 pm

    You’ve sold it to me! Sounds brilliant…
    Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub

    • Jo
      Author
      May 1, 2018 / 5:53 pm

      Oh good. It was a lot of fun. The perfect mix of a good storyline, great toe-tapping tunes and a lot of laughter. Thanks for hosting. #coolmumclub

  5. April 26, 2018 / 2:05 pm

    I’ve seen this advertised on the tube but didn’t really know what it was about until I read this. This sounds like such a different musical and one I would really love to see (though I’m not a teenager lol) I’m going to add it to my must watch list! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub xox

    • Jo
      Author
      May 1, 2018 / 5:56 pm

      If you enjoy good tunes and a good laugh this is definitely for you. There was a standing ovation at the end and literally everyone was on their feet cheering. Always a good sign. #coolmumclub

  6. April 26, 2018 / 6:22 am

    This sounds truly delightful. Here in India, I’ve hardly ever watched plays let alone musicals. Let me see if there is something suitable playing nearby.

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:11 pm

      Rachna I confess it is one of my favourite pastimes probably fuelled by the experience of my own teenage years. I would be interested to know what is available in India of a similar vein. x

  7. April 25, 2018 / 10:12 am

    I hadn’t heard of that one – but then I don’t follow musicals. (I tell people that I don’t like them but secretly I could watch Sound of Music 100 times a year, so make what you will of that). Anyway, my kids love musicals but as we are hundreds of miles from London’s west end, we tend to have to wait until they are out on DVD. This sounds like an unusual story for a musical but lots of fun and thought provoking. #TeensTweensBeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:13 pm

      Ha ha Janet actually I have a love/hate relationship with musicals too. They are certainly not my first port of call, preferring a play, but if there is a good story line I am attracted. I think you are either a word or a music person so if there is too much “twee” singing going on then it’s absolutely not for me.

  8. April 24, 2018 / 10:07 pm

    I LOVE musicals and have been very lucky to see very many. My eldest daughter shares my passion and has always come with me. I would go far more then we do but with the cost so high & factoring in travel costs we aren’t always able to go as often as I’d like.

    Fortunately we also have a theatre near us that often have a lot of West End shows so have been there quite a few times!

    I’ve not heard of Jamie but reading this it will go on my ‘to see’ list as you have definitely sold it to me! #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:17 pm

      Sharon I had you down as a big musical fan actually and remember your great post on 80’s music. You are absolutely right about the cost though, it can be quite prohibitive particularly when you factor in all the little extras. It’s an area that needs to be addressed by the big West End theatres. If you go let me know what you think.

  9. April 24, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    I’m not much of a fan of musicals but this sounds great! #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:27 pm

      Yes I think you are either attracted to one camp or the other. My preference is always for a play over a musical. The strong story line and nod to various teenager issues made it a strong contender for me.

  10. April 24, 2018 / 6:46 pm

    i like both musicals and plays and prefer them to action movies. I will give Jamie a watch as my nephew is a drag queen and champion pole dancer, he’s 19/20 now, sadly my sister is divorced from his father so we only get to see snippets on face book. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:29 pm

      Oh wow Suzanne a drag queen and a champion pole dancer that deserves a round of applause! I think you will enjoy it, do let me know if you go when you are next over and what you think.

  11. Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas
    April 24, 2018 / 6:31 pm

    It sounds a great one to watch out for. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it goes on tour. My eldest isn’t the slightest bit interested in the theatre, but my youngest and I often enjoy a meal and theatre trip. This sounds like it would be a good one to go and see together. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:30 pm

      It did actually start out in Sheffield which is where the story is set and then moved to London quite quickly I believe as it was so well received. It’s a great one for a trip out with the teens or teen in your case!

  12. April 24, 2018 / 6:17 pm

    I have read another review about this musical and saw it on the TV too! It looks great and something that we could all go and see. #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:31 pm

      Yes I think even my eldest who wouldn’t normally be seen dead inside a theatre would have enjoyed it too. There’s definitely a lot to talk about so perfect for a long train journey home. x

  13. April 24, 2018 / 5:13 pm

    Yay, I was right! Only because I’d seen them queuing 10 deep for tickets whilst with a friend who had a ticket. I didn’t think it would be my cup of tea but having read your review, I’m wondering whether I should go see it with the kid. Wonderful review Jo. You may just have changed my mind x

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:32 pm

      Ha ha yes you were definitely “on it” Nicky as my teens would say. I know you are a fan of musicals and am sure you would really love this. Keep me posted. x

  14. April 24, 2018 / 2:13 pm

    Hmm, I have not heard of this one. But I can tell you my 11yo daughter and I are itching to see The Greatest Showman. I’ve heard such good things and ooo Hugh Jackman.

    #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:33 pm

      Well Katy if Hugh Jackman is there what is not to like? Hope you get to see it and have a good time.

  15. April 24, 2018 / 1:42 pm

    This is the second glowing review I’ve read for this and we’ve been talking about going for a while. Must get self together enough to book tickets!

    • Jo
      Author
      May 2, 2018 / 12:34 pm

      Aah Nikki that is surely a good omen. Maybe one for the half term if you are around? I look forward to hearing what you think. x

  16. April 24, 2018 / 1:24 pm

    I love a musical – my daughter and me are definitely with the majority there, although as a teenager I hated them. I also heard the WH interview and thought they were great – one to look out for #Tweensteensbeyond

  17. April 24, 2018 / 12:52 pm

    I hadn’t heard about it, but then I’m out here in the sticks! 😀 . Teens have so much to deal with as they grow up, being bullied because you don’t fit into the conventional mold is just one painful burden to bear. Great to hear this is a triumphant story that sounds like a lot of fun too. #Tweensteensbeyond

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