EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE quickly became one of the most successful new musicals in years conquering the hearts of West End theatre-goers. Now the film adaption of the musical will be premiering on Friday, September 17th on Amazon Prime Video. Writer Tom MacRae talks about what it was like to create the show and then go back to adapt it to film, and what audiences can expect from this amazing new cast and soundtrack.
Inspired by true events, EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE is written by Tom MacRae and directed by Jonathan Butterell. The show follows Jamie New (Max Harwood), a teenager from Sheffield, who dreams of life on stage as a drag queen. Jamie is confident and focused on his life in drag, but unsure how to start and finds help from his mom (Sarah Lancashire), his best friend Pritti (Lauren Patel), and local drag legend Miss Loco Chanelle (Richard E. Grant). He also has to contend with navigating school officials, an unsupportive father, and looking to make rainbows out of the people who try to rain on his parade.
MacRae who has written for television for many hit shows including “Doctor Who”, The LIbrarians”, and other shows says that both stage and screen versions of the JAMIE have proven to be a wonderfully creative learning experience and a bonus that he was able to create with his talented friends.
“The Jamie stage show was my first ever stage show, and the Jamie movie was my first ever movie, so there was a huge learning curve writing both! But both were a wonderful experience because I got to make them with my best friends, Jonathan the director and Dan the composer – and we supported each other through everything. Coming from a TV background, I’m more used to writing for the screen, so in some ways, the movie was easier for me than the stage show, because it’s a more familiar form, but both had their own challenges. Filming was a lot longer hours – but you only have to get it right once. With the stage show, you have to get it right every single night! “
One key aspect of EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE is that it has such great energy, even when covering some more serious topics, and really resonates with younger theatre audiences. MacRae hopes that audiences come away with a positive outlook and message at the end of it.
“For me, the message of JAMIE is very simple: Kindness is a superpower. I hope that’s what our audience takes away from Jamie’s story – that you really can change the world just by being kind.”
Film adaptations always have some changes from the stage version, and this one has a new song for everyone to enjoy called “This Was Me” that honors the history of those LGBTQ people who worked so hard in previous generations for the character of Jamie to be able to live so freely as himself.
“I think ‘This Was Me’ is one of my favorite songs that Dan and I have ever written. In the stage show, I wanted to stay away from AIDS and HIV territory because Jamie is 16 and new and doesn’t know anything about all of that. I wanted him to be the gay, effeminate hero who wins – and wins big. After the success of the stage show, we felt that we could afford to sneak a little history lesson into the movie, so we wrote a song that doesn’t pull its punches, and opens Jamie’s eyes to a whole world he doesn’t know existed. It’s a beautiful song and a tough song, and it’s our anthem to the fallen, and to the amazing courage and sacrifice shown by so many. Also, it’s optimistic, and is about Hugo, the old drag queen, passing the torch onto Jamie and the new generation and saying ‘it’s over to you now. You can do this”.”
There is also a new cast for the filmed adaptation, and that process was intense and offered opportunities for many young performers to perform professionally on screen for the first time, a fact that MacRae is really proud of to showcase new talent.
“It was a great big open casting call that went on for MONTHS – nearly all of our young cast had never acted professionally or on camera before, and many came from the local area and even from the schools that we filmed in. Some of our movie cast has already gone into the stage show in the West End and on tour. I’m really proud of all our kids, and thrilled that we were able to discover so much new talent, and give an amazing opportunity to people who often aren’t given this kind of chance. “
Storytelling, through television and theatre, became a lifeline to many during the COVID quarantine. MacRae says that it highlights the importance of the arts both as entertainment and as a way to allow people to experience something beyond their comfort zone.
“The arts, and storytelling, are the things that make us human. Living through Covid has been a uniquely human experience for good and for bad, and telling stories about it and exploring how it made us think and feel and change is something we all must do as we try and process what happened – and the arts are a wonderful, accessible, powerful way of doing that. After Covid, we all have a story to tell, and we’re looking at the arts, now more than ever, to be a mirror on the world.”
If you want to also experience EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE on stage, after seeing the filmed adaption, of course, the stage version is coming to Los Angeles in January 2022 as well!
“We’re so excited to be bringing the Jamie stage show to the Ahmanson in LA in January 2022, and can’t wait to share the live Jamie experience with the USA as well as the movie. It’s a story for everyone, with a message of love and community and the power of ordinary people doing ordinary things. It’s exactly what we all need at the moment.”
EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE premiers on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, September 17th.
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