Everybody's Talking About Jamie movie – seven key differences between stage and screen

The film is out tomorrow on Amazon Prime!

2021 20th Century Studios
2021 20th Century Studios
© John Rogers

The new movie version of WhatsOnStage Award winning musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie arrives on Amazon Prime tomorrow morning! But we thought we'd do a quick deepdive to highlight some of the key changes between the show (about a teenager who dreams of becoming a drag queen) and the film.

What's worth saying, from the off, is that this is a pretty faithful movie adaptation by most stage standards – writer Tom Macrae has augmented and embellished characters and made some clinical edits where necessary. It truly is a pretty sturdy class act in stage to screen translation – be sure to read our review.

1) No more Legend of Loco Chanel

In the stage show, when Jamie meets former drag icon Hugo, we get the larger-than-life number "The Legend of Loco Chanel", giving a semi-fictionalised and vivacious retelling of what is essentially a film-noir experience. The movie creatives have gone in a completely different direction here, with Richard E Grant and Holly Johnson (of Frankie Goes to Hollywood fame), telling a grounded, heartbreaking and truthful story about Hugo's upbringing in London. What's notable in this soaring passage is that it features an appearance by original musical Jamie John McCrea, playing the drag icon in his early days.

2) Missing in this movie world

Alongside "The Legend of Loco Chanel", a few more absent numbers include "Limited Edition, Prom Night Special", "Ugly in this Ugly World" and "Prom Song". All are revised into new dialogue passages or unnecessary in the context of the film, so they don't feel too missed.

Max Harwood as Jamie New and Richard E Grant as Loco Chanelle
Max Harwood as Jamie New and Richard E Grant as Loco Chanelle
© 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

3) Work it, Jamie New

In the show, Jamie relies on parental benevolence and charity to help pay for his drag dreams. In the movie, from the off, we know this is a very different Sheffield teen – ready and waiting to hop out in the early morning drizzle to do a paper round. Easy way to get an audience to root for the young dreamer! There's also a lovely cameo from the original Margaret as the shop owner where Jamie does some shifts.

4) Out of the Darkness, re-lit

In the stage production, "Out of the Darkness, Into the Spotlight" is set during a homework club, where a group of students basically "Cup Song" their way through some rather static backing vocals (lil' Pitch Perfect reference there). In the movie, this becomes a dream-like sequence where the school dinner ladies become beautiful, glowing ballroom dancers. It's a real highlight.

Max Harwood in Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Max Harwood in Everybody's Talking About Jamie
(© © 2020 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.)

5) Dean redeemed?

The film uses Sharon Horgan's character of Miss Hedge to help add a multi-faceted twist to the school bully Dean Paxton. While it's never in doubt that Dean is a bit of a d*ck, we do see some shots of his home life – apathetic family members who don't care about his prom night, plus his lack of motivation to take his Maths GCSE. It turns what can, in the stage show, feel to be a two-dimensional baddie into a nuanced (though not entirely sympathetic) presence in Jamie's life.

6) Football fiasco

The writers have also decided to bolster the role of Jamie's dad in the movie – adding a final twist to a saddening tale. While the heartwrenching conversation between Jamie and his dad still takes place, during Jamie's mum's mournful number "He's My Boy", we see Jamie interrupt his pa's local football match to throw some shapes on the pitch, in the process being attacked by irate supporters. While Jamie's dad chases off the attackers, the older man then angrily storms off without saying anything to his son. It makes the bigotry all the more explicit, and the betrayal of a parent more vividly realised.

7) Jamie's drag debut – dramatised

Here's one thing that the screenplay couldn't get away with that the stage show could. At the end of act one, normally Jamie makes his drag debut in a major (yet vitally, unseen) climactic moment. Here however, we get Jamie's performance in full – and it's pretty lush. To show Jamie actually be pretty decent at the thing he's dreamed of is a neat, cathartic experience.