Sensational Sheffield return for Everybody's Talking About Jamie star Layton Williams

Actor Layton Williams is bringing an iconic Sheffield theatre role back to the city where it all began for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 10:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 7:15 am
Strike the pose: Layton Williams, centre, on stage in Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Strike the pose: Layton Williams, centre, on stage in Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Layton has spent just over a year in the West End production of the musical which was created at the Crucible Theatre and will be the first lead actor to take the show on tour.

The first stop is Sheffield Lyceum, where the show runs until February 29 before heading out on the road for seven months.

The Beautiful People and Bad Education star plays Jamie New, a 16-year-old who lives on a council estate in Sheffield, wants to be a drag artist and faces opposition when he decides to go to his school prom in a dress.

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Supported by his brilliant, loving mum and friends, Jamie seeks to overcome prejudice, beat the bullies and step into the spotlight.

Layton takes the title role, starring alongside Shane Richie from EastEnders as Hugo/Loco Chanelle, Coronation Street’s Shobna Gulati as Ray and past Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson as Dean.

The show was written by Doctor Who’s Tom MacRae, with original music by lead singer-songwriter of The Feeling, Dan Gillespie Sells.

Layton, last seen on stage in Sheffield two years ago in Kiss Me Kate at the Crucible, said: “I’m happy to be back.

“I get to immerse myself and feel like a proper local. I’m back literally almost a year since I’ve been playing Jamie.

“I remember having a chat with one of the team in Jamie who said that we’re going to go on tour and I wondered then who’s that going to be? It’s me!”

In Kiss Me Kate Layton had a big song Too Darned Hot, which was a memorable part of the show. He said: “I loved that number and I know how full out it was. It went on for about 10 minutes.

“After that performance I used to go straight to the Crucible rehearsal room. I put on the red heels and sang all the (Jamie) songs to get the stamina in my body.”

Layton is also finding the stamina to do a Pros from the Shows workshop with young performers at City Limits dance studio, Sheffield on February 21, and at other tour venues.

George Sampson and other cast members will do the warm-up and Layton will then join them to go through a show routine and answer questions.

Layton, from Bury, sees it as a way of giving back to young hopefuls. “I’m from an estate up North. People don’t think it can happen to them but if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.”

He remembers seeing the original show in Sheffield with his friend John McCrea in the lead, never imagining he would play Jamie himself.

Layton said it’s amazing because the cast will perform to a total of 26,000 people in Sheffield this time round.

A lot of the tour cast are new and original director, Sheffielder Jonathan Butterell, has passed the baton on to Matt Ryan. “Jonathan has put his trust in Matt Ryan as the new director, to see this show in a new light and a different way. It’s going to be really special,” said Layton.

He loves the role. “I think Jamie is just a beautiful character. He’s a teenage boy trying to figure things out. He’s really witty and fabulous.

“He’s a character a lot of people will warm to themselves, an outsider trying to fit in to the world and find a place in this world. I love playing him. I’m going to miss him.”

Sheffield Theatres box office: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

Workshop website: www.prosfromtheshows.com