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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie star Ivano Turco on why show ‘continues to be this powerful monument’

Exclusive: As the musical returns to London, the performer talks about playing a relatable role model

By Simon Button

Ivano Turco in Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Image: Matt Crockett)
Ivano Turco in Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Image: Matt Crockett)

Based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, the 16-year-old northern schoolboy and wannabe drag queen who went to the prom in a dress, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie premiered in Sheffield in 2017 and transferred to the West End later the same year.

It won the Attitude Culture Award and was named best new musical at the WhatsOnStage Awards, went on to tour the UK, has been performed around the world and was made into a film by Amazon Studios.

Now the musical – which has music by Dan Gillespie Sells and a book and lyrics by Tom MacRae – is returning to London for the first time since 2021 as part of its latest UK tour and its star Ivano Turco is thrilled to be spreading the show’s upbeat message.

“This is a story about finding out who we are that knows no colour” – Ivano Turco (Image: Matt Crockett)

“At the stage door sometimes it can be really overwhelming,” the 24-year-old performer told Attitude at a launch event last week hosted by @sohoplace. “People come up and say: ‘This show saved my life’.”

Turco, who grew up in Zimbabwe, is following in the high-heeled footsteps of John McCrea, Layton Williams and Noah Thomas as a character who is called Jamie New in the show and is therefore an open page when it comes to casting.

“What’s so lovely is when younger people of colour are like: ‘I can’t wait until it’s my turn to play this role’. But it’s not just young people of colour saying that – it’s also young white kids or young Asian kids. This is a story about finding out who we are that knows no colour. It continues to be this powerful monument.”

Ivano also feels it’s important that young queer people see a relatable role model up there on stage. “It’s so refreshing to have a queer hero who isn’t victimised by their lifestyle. It’s not: ‘Woe is me, my life is hard because I’m gay’. One of the first things we hear him say is when he shrugs off a gay joke from one of his classmates. That perfectly sets the tone of: ‘There’s no victim here’.”

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at the Peacock Theatre, London, until 23 March. Get tickets here.