Sheffield may not be La La Land but it’s certainly the place for uplifting musicals these days.
From the opening exuberant number in the classroom you sense we’re in for a good night. And so it proves with director Jonathan Butterell marshalling the triple threat of slick choreography by Kate Prince, catchy music by Dan Gillespie Sells and witty words by Tom MacRae.
The story of a Sheffield 16-year-old whose dream is to become a drag queen and to go to the school prom in a dress is much more than camp posturing (though there’s plenty of that) and has lots to say about teenage identity and self-esteem and of a mother’s mixed feelings about her son moving into adulthood.
John McCrea is perfect as Jamie, one moment all cocky and preening, the next filled with anguish and self-doubt. Charles Dale has fun as his mentor, Hugo cum faded drag artiste Loco Chanel, Tamsin Carroll impresses as the stern teacher (who periodically bursts into song in Jamie’s imagination) and Josie Walker’s self-effacing mum bursts forth with the show’s big emotional number, He’s My Boy,
Another powerful voice comes from Lucie Shorthouse as Jamie’s confidante, class swot Pritti Pasha, and one soon realises the schoolkids are not local youngsters making up the numbers but experienced professionals who can nail a one-liner and sing and dance with energetic precision.
A bonus is to be able to see the band atop Anna Flischle’s flexible set.
Everybody will be talking about this show from now on.