A Sheffield-based musical has stormed the West End, picking up three awards yesterday at the WhatsOnStage Awards, the only theatre awards voted for by the public.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie was named best new musical, while actors John McCrea and Lucie Shorthouse were awarded Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical at the ceremony at the Prince of Wales theatre.
The hit musical, inspired by the life of a teenage boy from County Durham who was ostracised for his desire to go to prom in a dress, is set on a Sheffield council estate and was first shown last February at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.
My heart is so incredibly full. I’m so beyond grateful to everybody who took the time to vote. To know that the public are behind Pritti Pasha means the absolute world and the significance is not lost on me. It is an enormous privilege to originate a kind of character that deserves much more visibility and exploration; to know you’ve embraced her means EVERYTHING and it’s much bigger than this role in this show. Here’s to greater representation and diversity 🙌🏽. As an actor you pray for stories as beautiful, restorative and important as this one to tell and my soul is fed every night I get to play Pritti. THANK YOU. Thank you to my Jamie family, my actual family and all my lovely supporters I am undeserving but believe me- so incredibly thankful and humbled. Thank you for your generosity it’s stunning! 💙💙 📸 @woollercom
Best Supporting Actress Shorthouse told Broadway World: “I remember thinking it felt like something different, something special. It’s a simple story in a way but it’s got to have a future life – it’s so effervescent and fresh.”
Jamie Campbell, the inspiration for the show’s main character, grew up in a village near Bishop Auckland in the North-East, loving to dress up in girls’ clothes.
He came out as gay at 14 and was bullied both at school and in public. When his ever-supportive mother said he should go to his end of school prom in a dress, he was told he would not be allowed in.
So he decided to contact Firecracker Films, the company behind Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, who made a documentary about his story: Jamie: Drag Queen at 16.
Jamie said the process of seeing his story go from a documentary, to Sheffield Theatres and then to the West End has not just changed other people’s opinions of him and of drag, but also his own.
“I got lost in the drag persona. Even when the musical came to Sheffield, I was lost in it. But I’ve seen these people’s interpretation of me and these people saying, ‘No you are beautiful as Jamie, you don’t need all of that drag,’” he told the BBC.
“It’s not just the audience who might have learned things. It’s me, too.”