Everybody’s Talking About Jamie REVIEW

I finally got to see Luke Latchman on as Jamie and oh my god was he phenomenal! As soon as I found out his Jamie dates I booked to see him because I knew he would smash it.

Luke’s rendition of The Wall In My Head was absolutely stunning and really got me emotional. I’m not a crier at shows but oh boy did I shed a few tears during this show.

His energy as Jamie was perfect and his performance completely captivating.

At this performance I was also lucky enough to see Kirstie on as Ray. When I saw her name up on the cast board I literally screamed in excitement because I had wanted to see her as Ray for quite a while.

It’s safe to say her Ray was everything I hoped it would be and her Limited Edition Prom Night Special was just lovely to watch.

Ray is my favourite character in the show because she has so many great lines and Kirstie delivered them with finesse.

I’m going to be sad to see her leave the show, but I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

On top of that I got to once again see Melissa Jacques on as Margaret New. I just adore Melissa’s voice. I hang onto her every note, I really do. I could listen to her perform If I Met Myself Again and He’s My Boy for eternity and not get sick of it. She puts so much emotion into her performance and is one of the few performers who have made me cry because they made me feel so much.

Shane Ritchie absolutely smashed it as Hugo. I didn’t really know what to expect from him vocally, Id never heard him sing before but he blew me away. He was funny, charismatic and a very in your face Hugo which I loved.

If you get the chance to see Luke Latchman on as Jamie then take that chance! I know I’m always singing his praises but he really is something special when it comes to performs.

This was my 5th time at the show and it was probably one of my favourites.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Representation of Disability in Theatre

Representation and diversity in theatre is something that is really important but unfortunately there is often a distinct lack of it. And because of this I feel its a topic that needs to be discussed.
Not only is representation important, accurate representation is vital. Recently the play All In a Row at the Southwark Playhouse used a puppet to portray an Autistic character.
This saw the autistic community take to twitter to express their concerns and feelings that the puppet was dehumanising and re-enforcing negative stereotypes that surround autism, one of them being that autistic people cant be independent, as obviously a puppet needs someone in order to have any function.
As a response to the backlash they were facing Southwark Playhouse released this statement:

Statement taken from Southwark Playhouse Twitter

A lot of people in the autistic community of twitter felt that statement released was a bit of a piss take and the reasons stated in the statement did not justify their ‘artistic choice’ of using a puppet to portray the character. I agree with this feeling, I mean how many times have we been asked to believe a 30 year old is 17 in a show? A lot of people, including myself felt that should have cast an adult, autistic or not, who was young looking to take on the roll.

As an autistic person myself the fact they used a puppet is honestly disgusting to me.
Because it does in itself reinforce harmful stereotypes of autism.
Specifically the fact that a puppet is useless unless it has someone to use it.

Once I went for a job interview. I was taken there by my Personalised 4 Autism case worker.
The woman at the interview didnt address me, she addressed my support worker and asked
‘Can she talk?’ ‘Can she walk?’ ‘Can she understand and hold conversations?’

And for me the use of a puppet only puts that out there. So many people who I come across think thats what autism is, a lack of being able to be independent, to speak etc. They shouldn’t have used a puppet, they should have listened to the autistic community.
Because they caused untold distress. Their reasoning for using a puppet was quite frankly laughable. And that’s where my issue lies. They ignored us. They ignored our concerns and just came up with a bullshit excuse.

Maybe the content of the show was good but that does not do anything to take away from how harmful and dehumanizing the puppet is.

Along with the use of the puppet, they only offered one relaxed performance of the show. So as well as putting out harmful images, they also failed to make the show accessible which only angered people more.

It is so important for people who have a disability to feel represented in a way that doesn’t feel harmful or play only on stereotypes of the disability.

Along with casting actors in roles that depict that disability, we should also be cast disabled actors in what ‘traditionally’ are non-disabled roles. Two shows that I have seen do this in the past year are Spring Awakening Manchester and Hadestown at the National Theatre in which the wonderful and immensely talented Beth Hinton-Lever who was born with Congenital Limb Deficiency and as a result was born without her lower right forearm was cast. This needs to be happening more, actors who have a disability of some sort are just as talented and just as worthy to be seen as those who don’t have a disability. In fact I feel its more important that they are seen because there is such a lack of representation out there and as a result so many people don’t get the opportunity to see someone who looks like themselves in any kind of media, be it film, tv or theatre. Being able to see themselves represented in a positive way can make all the difference to a young person, or anybody for that matter.

Its 2019, why aren’t we seeing more representation of disability? and for that matter, more representation across the board. Its about time we caught up and put those voices and that untapped talent out there.

And to those who are writing a piece that features a disability that they do not suffer from themselves; ask for feed back from people who have the disability you are trying to write, listen to their feedback, especially the feedback that is telling you that what your doing with the writing and depiction is, in their eye harmful. Don’t disregard those voices, they are the ones who live with it everyday, they are the ones who have to deal with the stereotypes that will just be added to if you don’t listen to their voices. If you get us on side then you will have a loyal following, if you piss us off you can guarantee that we will fight the production and speak out against it as loudly as we can.
For you its a way of making money, for us? We live with disability everyday, we deserve to be listened to and not feel harmed as a community by the shows being put out there.

A Chat With Jabez Sykes

I asked northern actor Jabez Sykes who recently play Moritz Stiefel in Spring Awakening at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester which recently won Best Regional Production at the What’s On Stage Awards what inspired his love for the arts and what working in the industry is like.

What sparked your love for the arts?

When I was in primary school one of the TA’s also taught a Latin and Ballroom dance school and she invited a lot of students to come and have a trial day. I really fell in love with it, most of the other kids dropped out after a few weeks, but it was the first time I really felt like I belonged somewhere, this was where my love blossomed for the arts…
As I got older I wanted to do more than dancing as it was all a bit ‘tits and tooth’ for me, so I started at the Oldham Theatre Workshop, they allowed me a safe place to have an artistic voice. It was here I really developed my love for theatre, it was (and still is) an incredible place, and it will forever and continue to be very special to me.

Acting isn’t the most stable of jobs, and the industry is extremely competitive. How do you deal with that uncertainty?

I think for me it’s surrounding myself with good people.
It is unfortunately a very competitive industry, and in my experience, very unstable, but this is something you know going entering the industry.
I think you have to believe in yourself and find what makes you special.

Working in the arts is a challenging and extremely intense thing to do. Does the pressure to perform and be perfect all the time take its toll on your mental health?

Absolutely. Especially with auditions the pressure is on to get it right in that room which can be really daunting, and when you don’t get it right it’s devastating. Especially if you’re working a ‘normal’ job that you hate.
But again, you have to have enough belief to know that it wasn’t your best, brush it off and focus on the next thing.

How do you deal with times a performance may not have gone as smoothly as you wanted it to?

I honestly LOVE it when things go wrong (when it’s something minor anyway), I find it makes everyones senses switch on and find a solution. I think you just have to laugh it off and remember there are more shows to get it right.
We are human after all and mistakes do happen, sometimes shows with mistakes are the best shows, because it makes everyone more alert!

Do you feel pressure to present yourself to fans in a certain way and respond to them if they reach out to you and if they themselves may be wanting advice when it comes to their own mental wellbeing does that have an impact on you mentally?

If I’m being honest, I don’t really have any ‘fans’ so haven’t really been in this situation.
I will say that it is always hard to see someone suffering, however I am not a mental wellbeing/health professional and if someone is struggling they should reach out to someone qualified, as I couldn’t provide the help that they needed.
I would be flattered that someone felt they could reach out to me and always endeavour to reply, but at the end of the day, it is not for me to advise on someone else’s health.

What advice would you give to young performers wanting to get started in the art and to those who are wanting to audition for stage school?

I never went\ got into drama school, so my route into the industry was very different to most.
What I would say for people auditioning is, know your material for said audition.
However, drama school isn’t the only way into the industry. I will say it is much harder without, but not impossible.
Get out there and make it happen, if it is in you then you’ll do it.
Find a local theatre group, do whatever you can, but make sure you enjoy it. As soon as you lose the joy for something, move on!
Life is too short!

Kinky Boots REVIEW

I was lucky enough to win tickets to see Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre in London thanks to a Twitter giveaway by Encore Tickets! So thank you Encore Tickets for giving me the opportunity to see this fun show.

Kinky Boots is a musical about a shoe factory in Northampton, England and is based on a true story. The show sees Charlie Price inherit a struggling shoe factory from his father, and he becomes determined to save the business, he ends up forming an unlikely partnership with a transvestite named Lola and all sorts of craziness and fun ensues.

Being from Northamptonshire myself, I was super excited to see the show as shoe making is a huge part of the history of the Shire. Kinky Boots is fun, absolutely hilarious and has a really powerful and positive message behind it which is to be unapologetically yourself, and to be kind and accepting of those around you, which I think is a really important message.

The sets in the show were stunning. From the Price & Sons factory, to the simple set up of the care home to the Milan set filled with lights and glam.
My favourite being the shoe factory set.

The staging of the show was clever and pretty seamless. The costumes were stunning, especially the Milan show costumes and the boots were to die for. Full of glitz and colour the costumes were dazzling.

The stand out moments of the show for me were Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Lola, his presence on stage was phenomenal, from sassiness Land of Lola and Sex Is In The Heel, to the emotional and stripped back numbers such as Not My Father’s Son and Hold Me In Your Heart.
And judging by the reaction of the audience after Hold Me In Your Heart, everyone was stunned by his performance.
Another stand out for me was Verity Rushworth as Lauren and her knock out performance of The History of Wrong Guys. WOW. She was hilarious and owned the stage. I loved her voice and energy, and again, judging by the response of the audience I’m not the only one who loved her portrayal of Lauren.

Kinky Boots is such a fun show, with fabulous costumes, a stunning set and a very strong cast.
The choreography is brilliant, especially in numbers like Land of Lola, Everybody Say Yeah, What A Woman Wants. With a stunning set to boot (pun not intended) the show is a joy to watch and leaves you feeling positive.

RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

You can see Kinky Boots at the Aldephi Theatre until January 2019

*As I saw this show in May there has been a cast change.

My Top 5 Musicals

Muscial theatre is a huge passion of mine and so today I thought I would share my top 5 musicals that I have seen, so without further ado!

SPRING AWAKENING

Spring Awakening is my all time favourite musical and this year I finally got to see it at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester. The cast were incredible as was the choreography and the set.

Spring Awakening is an adaptation of a play by German play write Frank Wedekind in 1890-91 to address the censorship around sex and sexuality in German society at the time as well as the pressures young people faced.

Covering subjects such as teen suicide, abuse, abortion and loss it’s a hard hitting show.

The musical follows Wendla Bergmann a young teen who is beginning to question the teachings of her mother, school and church.

Melchior Gabor a teen with a rebellious streak and acts out against authority.

Moritz Stiefel a close friend of Melchior Gabor who is struggling in school and confindes in Melchior that he is being tormented by sexual dreams.

As well as Hanschen Rilow exploring his sexuality with fellow classmate Ernst.

Its soundtrack is a mix of softer songs such as Whispering and rock style numbers like Totally Fucked.

I feel Spring Awakening is a must see show as many of the issues addressed although in the historical setting of a German town are still very much relevant today.

Favourite Song: Those You’ve Known

Favourite Character: Moritz

Favourite Act: Act 2

EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a favourite of mine, from catchy opening number that is And You Don’t Even Know It to the emotional He’s My Boy and the witty and often laugh out loud funny dialogue.

It follows Jamie New as he tries to realise his dream of becoming a drag queen in Sheffield. He faces bullying and rejection but ultimately fierce support from those that matter.

The final number Out of the Darkness is such a lovely end to a heart warming show and you leave feeling absolutely amazing.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a wonderful show and delivers such a lovely message. It is also based on a real person that is the lovely Jamie Campbell.

Favourite Song: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Favourite Character: Jamie New

Favourite Act: Act 1

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is currently playing at the Apollo Theatre in London until September 2019

SIX

SIX the musical brings you Henry viii’s wives in concert. I absolutely adore this musical and I think its creators Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow are geniuses.

Telling the story of Henrys wives in a totally new and fun way, with catchy songs, incredible vocals and dazzling costumes, SIX is fun and educational. Teaching you things about the Queens that you dont learn in school.

The Queens take their turns to fight it out in song to decide which Queen was the most important and quarrel among themselves in between make it a funny watch.

I cannot recommend this musical enough and I cannot wait to see it again on my birthday.

SIX is a new musical created by Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow and has enjoyed great success this year both at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and its run at the Arts Theatre in London. It is now coming to the end of an equally successful short tour of the UK before coming back to the Arts Theatre next year for an open-ended run.

SIX gives us the stories of Henry viii’s wives and does it in a brilliantly unique way.

From its unique concept, stunning costume design and catchy numbers it really is a triumph.

Favourite Song: Ex-Wives

Favourite Character: Anne Boleyn

Favourite Act: SIX is a one act musical!

SIX will be returning to the Arts Theatre in London from January 2019.

WICKED

Wicked is such a good family show.

Being the prequel to The Wizard of Oz we learn how Elphaba became the Wicked Witch of the West. The entire musical is a flashback and essentially comes full circle. With catchy numbers, absolute belters like No Good Deed and heartfelt duet As Long As You’re Mine theres something in it for everyone. The set, staging and costumes are absolutely dazzling really finish off a great show all round. There’s a very good reason why it such a favourite.
Favourite Song: No Good Deed

Favourite Character: Elphaba

Favourite Act: Act 2

Wicked is currently playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London.

LES MISERABLE

Les Mis will always hold a special place in my heart as it was the first musical I ever saw in the West End. I can remember being blown away by the sets, staging and the voices of the entire cast and just generally being in complete awe.

There’s a very good reason why Les Mis is such a beloved show and still such a must see so many years down the line.

It’s tear jerking and hard hitting but has the odd comedic moment.

Favourite Song: Turning

Favourite Character: Eponine

Favourite Act: Act 1

Les Miserable is currently playing at the Queens Theatre in London and is touring.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie REVIEW

On Wednesday the 24th of October I was lucky enough to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre in London for the second time, this time with the lovely Luke Bayer on as Jamie New. I was beyond excited to have the opportunity to see Luke on as Jamie, and I went in with very high expectations and oh boy did he exceed them! Luke’s performance was emotive, compelling, hilarious (the eyebrow fiasco scene will be one of my favourite parts) and unbelievably captivating.

Every show I go to there are usually a couple of people whose performance really wows me, this time it was Lucie Shorthouse who plays Pritti Pasha, Melissa Jacques who was on as Margaret New and of course the wonderful Luke Bayer.

Lucie’s performance was once again absolutely outstanding. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get enough of her singing It Means Beautiful. I have a feeling that she is going to be one to watch on the theatre scene!

He’s My Boy once again brought tears to my eyes. Melissa Jacques voice and the immense emotion of her performance made it my favourite rendition of the song.

The staging of Jamie is really well executed, especially the story telling in The Legend of Loco Chanel.

The costumes in the show are well designed, from the school uniforms to the whacky get-up of the drag queens and Jamie’s dresses.

The show is truly a treat to watch!

RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

You can catch Luke Bayer on as Jamie on Monday Evening and Wednesday Matinees until the 26th of January 2019