Great Britain

Everybody’s talking about Jamie’s songs

EVERYBODY’S Talking About Jamie, the hit musical about a 16-year-old finding himself, is coming to Leeds next year.

The May 10-15 residency for the show, set in Sheffield, comes after its original dates in July this year were cancelled due to coronavirus.

Jamie lives in a council estate and doesn’t quite fit in, but supported by his loving mum and surrounded by his friends, he overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps into the spotlight.

The award-winning show, based on true events, has original music by Dan Gillespie, songwriter of pop band The Feeling, with book and lyrics by Doctor Who writer Tom MacRae.

Composer Dan said Sheffield now felt like home due to the amount of time he spent working on the show there before its premiere in the city.

He said: “It’s almost become an adopted home from me – with the years developing the show and doing research, then shooting the film.

“It’s always been a real pleasure to be there and it’s the home of Jamie.

“For stories about that – our place in the community – you have to really know the place if you’re going to write about it.”

Dan said the team’s focus was to create a show about Sheffield, but he had an inkling it might speak to a lot of people and a wider audience. He had always had the ambition to write a musical.

He said: “A very long time ago, The Feeling had a sniffy review in one of the music rags where the reviewer was saying that there was something a bit musical-theatre about some of the material on first album Twelve Stops And Home.

“I took it as a compliment because I have great respect for musical theatre.”

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie began life for Dan when he met Tom MacRae, a writer with a similar desire to create something new.

Dan said: “We bumped into each other on a demo years ago and it was really serendipitous that we started working together as a writing duo, writing songs.

“Not long after long after we started working together we were introduced to director Jonathan Butterell. He had just returned to Sheffield from working in New York for 10 years and he was looking for two writers for this particular project.

“He knew he wanted it to be pop and he knew that it should be kept accessible – the kind of musical that lets people in. That’s essentially what pop in any form is, whether it’s sophisticated or not.”

Dan said there was a lot of hard work involved in writing the score for Everybody’s Talking about Jamie, but the music came easy.

He added: “It felt a natural fit, being melodic and telling stories, in character and giving different voices to different characters stylistically speaking. It’s almost like it’s an excuse to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do in pop music.

“It’s quite hard to pin down my favourite song because when you work on a show for a long time, every song is tested to a point where if it’s not robust and strong enough, it gets cut.”

Dan came to the project after seeing a TV documentary about the original Jamie.

Dan added: “One of the reasons I was excited to do this was that you don’t often get the story of an effeminate boy at the centre of a piece of drama as a hero.

“You don’t get a heroic character, you get a tragical comical for character, slightly sexualised in some way or other, or the camp kid as the sidekick, just there for laughs.

“I found this more interesting because it was this authentically effeminate male lead hero character at the centre of the story. That felt fresh.”

Visit leedsgrandtheatre.com to book tickets.

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