A hit Yorkshire musical about a boy who wants to wear a dress to his prom is to be beamed live into hundreds of cinemas next week. Chris Burn reports.
It has become a word-of-mouth West End hit and is now due to be turned into the biggest Sheffield film since The Full Monty - but the original theatrical cast of acclaimed musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie aren’t surprised by its runaway success.
The story of a boy who wants to go to his school prom in a dress - based on a true story - opened at Sheffield’s Crucible last year before transferring to Shaftesbury Avenue’s Apollo Theatre. It was announced in May that it will soon be made into a feature film but before that a live performance at the Apollo will be broadcast to more than 500 cinemas next Thursday, July 5.
Luke Baker, who is from Wakefield and plays school bully Dean, is part of the majority of the cast who have stayed on for the London shows after appearing in the Sheffield production. He says it was clear from the earliest stages that the show was something special.
“We pretty much knew after the first read-through of the Sheffield production,” he says. “We all sat around and read it and sang it. That is when we looked around and everyone was crying and really touched, you could tell it was going to be special.
“At drama school, I think I actually said to someone when I was asked about my perfect job, ‘I would like to do an original piece set in Yorkshire and have a role I could do something with’. That didn’t even exist at the time but this ticks all those boxes for me.”
He says the multiple award-winning show has resonated because it is easy for audiences to relate to. “It is a very simple story about someone who wants to be themselves,” Baker says. “The plot about a teenage boy who wants to go to prom in a dress but also about a mother and son’s relationship with each other.
“Jamie is a 16-year-old trying to figure himself out. Everyone has been 16 and we can all relate to that. You partner up a simple story with an amazing script and amazing music and you are onto a good thing.”
Baker, whose love of drama came about after taking part in a summer school at Wakefield Theatre Royal when he was 15, says it has been a challenge playing a bully. “The key is to figure out what this kid’s life is for a start. I think most people have a kid in their class who they would think was a bully but he might just think he was being funny. I don’t want to play him as a big, bad wolf. The feedback I have got is having members of the audience coming up to me and saying ‘I absolutely hated you’. That is a sign you are doing the job right - but you have to say ‘I’m not like that really!’”
Baker and Harriet Payne, who is from Doncaster, were the only members of the original cast from Yorkshire and the other actors required dialect lessons to perfect Sheffield accents. But even Baker, from nearby Wakefield, had to adapt his voice.
“Even from Wakefield to Sheffield there are slight differences in things like the way you say ‘Alright’. But being from Yorkshire does make my job a bit easier.”
He adds: “It is quite exciting it is going out to a huge audience in cinemas but our standards will be the same. When you are doing the show, you are doing it for the audience in the theatre and that won’t change.”
The hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will be broadcast live from the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End to more than 500 cinemas across the UK and Ireland on Thursday 5 July at 7.20pm. Find you nearest cinema and book tickets at: JamieInCinemas.com