Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (US/UK) is a joyous and heart-warming musical about the true story of Jamie New, a sixteen-year-old in Sheffield overcoming prejudice, beating the bullies and stepping out of the darkness into the spotlight. We chatted with the show’s creators Tom MacRae, Dan Gillespie Sells and Jonathan Butterell about the newly released Everybody’s Talking About Jamie: Teen Edition (UK) for school and youth groups in the UK and Eire. Put on your heels and step into the world of Jamie New!
Why was it important to offer schools the chance to perform Jamie?
Jamie is a show about young people living in the real world today, dealing with exams, school, parents, friends, teachers and their own sense of identity – and we’re so excited to give real actual young people a chance to take ownership of Jamie’s story and tell it in their own way. Now ETAJ isn’t just set in a secondary school – it’s coming to life in secondary schools all across the world!
What makes Jamie’s story relevant to young people now?
Jamie’s story is a true story about the highs and lows of being sixteen. Everyone can see something of themselves in Jamie and his friends (and maybe his enemies too) and can find a bit of hope in Jamie’s remarkable journey. Young people need to be listened to, taken seriously, and given a voice. Jamie empowers them to do just that.
How have you adapted the show for younger performers? What’s different about this edition?
Well, we’ve cleaned up the ‘language’, shall we say – and thank heavens for the Sheffieldism ‘chuff’, which is a perfect replacement for a famous four-letter word starting with F. Some of the humour has been made a bit more age appropriate – but every joke that’s been cut has been replaced with one that’s just as good – if not better! The vocal score has been simplified in parts – but we haven’t made it too simple, cos we know what a talented and brilliant lot you all are.
What piece of advice would you give to a teacher preparing to stage the show?
Make it your own. Every community has its own unique energy and vibe, and although the show is set in Sheffield, it should be your version of Sheffield. ETAJ is a show that should feel like it’s taking place at the end of your street, wherever your street is.
What piece of advice would you give to a student preparing to be in the show?
Be bold, and don’t be afraid to explore parts of yourself you’ve never revealed in public before. Be fearless, be honest, but most of all – have FUN.
Why are the themes in the piece important to be shared with audiences young and old?
Jamie is about love, acceptance, courage, the power of community and the journey towards finding your own identity. These are big ideas that matter to everyone, young or old. Behind it all is a simple message; Kindness Is A Superpower, and after the last few years, it’s a message that everyone wants to celebrate.
Header Image: 2021 Notre Dame High School at Theatre Deli Sheffield production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie: Teen Edition (Tristram Kenton)