The smash-hit, West End Musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie starts its tour this month and arrives in North Wales this May starring actor and musical theatre star Layton Williams.
The musical is inspired by a true story about a young boy from Sheffield who doesn’t feel like he fits in with the rest of society, he strives to rise above these challenges and be sensational. Packed full of west end stars, its guaranteed to be a fun and fabulous evening of entertainment, it’s certainly what everyone will be talking about.
Yes mag caught up with Layton in between shows to find out more about the critically acclaimed show and his connection with North Wales.
Yes Magazine: For people who are new to Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, how would you sum up the storyline?
Layton: Jamie is based on a real character who was the subject of a documentary on BBC Three. I remember watching it years ago and it was about him wanting to be a drag queen and wanting to go to the school prom in a dress and how his mum Margaret supported him. When he got there there was this hoo-hah, the teachers wouldn’t let him in, then something wonderful and unexpected happened, his school mates refused to go in without him. The basics of his story inspired the musical and it’s been given a bit of theatrical razzamatazz. Our story is about a 16-year old boy who wants to be a drag queen and it’s about his relationship with his parents – including his dad, who he isn’t much in touch with. It’s about Jamie finding himself as a drag persona and, without giving anything away, what happens when he does eventually goes to the prom.
Yes Magazine: Does the show resonate for you on a personal level?
Layton: Yes, it does. I’m a queer boy from a council estate up North, so we have that in common. Me and my mum have had our moments in the past and sometimes on stage I’m thinking about the things we’ve been through. We always patch things up but families go through stuff. Any my upbringing wasn’t rosy. As I say, I was a gay boy on a council estate and as much as I tried to hide it I had a few things coming my way. It’s not been the easiest ride but I put it into my art.
Yes Magazine: What challenges does the role of Jamie present?
Layton: It’s about the emotional journey he has to go on. Eight times a week I’m having an argument with this person, bonding with that one, having to cry about this, have to cry about that…
The rollercoaster of emotions is a lot to navigate. Being 16 years old is hard. I remember being 16 with all those hormones and stuff. There’s the acting side of all that, then there are so many songs. I have to keep my voice tight and right. That’s the difficulty – keeping myself on top form all the time so when I get on stage I slay it. I want people to have the best experience possible and that means I have to be in full health, make sure I’m rested and always prepared. That’s the nature of the job but that’s what makes it exciting because you put your whole self out there on stage.
Yes Magazine: What’s your favourite musical number in the show and why?
Layton: And You Don’t Even know It is fab because it’s the opening number and I get to sing and dance to it all. Then I love the closing number out Of The Darkness because I have my microphone in my hand and I feel like a popstar.
Yes Magazine: The tour calls at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. Does it have any significance for you?
Layton: It’s such a lovely place by the sea. The last time I was there my grandma has passed away and I remember sitting on a bench thinking fond memories of her. She used to take us to Llandudno when we were kids too so it seemed appropriate to take a moment to reflect about her.
Yes Magazine: How hard do you think it will be to say goodbye to Jamie when the tour ends?
Layton: I can’t even think about it to be honest. I’ll have been playing this part for a good year and a half and I’ve loved every single second of it. All good things have to come to an end and I’m sure there are many more amazing opportunities waiting for me in the future but this will be something I will never forget. It’s been a life-changing job.
To book tickets, visit www.venuecymru.co.uk or call 01492 872000.