Little did Jamie and Margaret Campbell know seven years ago that their story would inspire a musical that premiered on stage at the Crucible in Sheffield.
Yet what started as one teenage boy’s simple but trailblazing ambition has turned into a huge West End hit, created in Sheffield.
The show, which charts Jamie’s battle to go to his school prom in a frock – and Margaret’s fiercely protective, unconditional love for her son – is funny and poignant by turns and has twice had its run in the heart of London’s theatreland extended.
And now audiences can see the award-winning musical everybody really is talking about at the cinema next Thursday (July 5). Detals at www.jamieincinemas.com
The remarkable sequence of events started in 2011 when Jamie, then just 15, contacted a documentary company when he feared his plan to wear a dress for the prom was about to be thwarted by his school.
Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, was shown on the BBC, where it was seen by theatre director Jonathan Butterell, who grew up in Park Hill.
Then, with musician Dan Gillespie Sells and lyricist Tom MacRae, he created Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, set in Sheffield, which started life at the Crucible in February 2017 and opened in the West End last November.
The extraordinary nightly standing ovations prompted West End theatre owner and producer Nica Burns to fast track the show to London.
The musical is also to be made into a film by the creators of Tyrannosaur, which starred Olivia Colman, and iconic TV series This Is England.
“It’s mad, it’s just snowballed,” says Jamie. “When Jonathan talked about doing a musical I thought he meant in a community theatre, and when the show went into the West End I thought, wow. Then it was extended and nominated for lots of awards, and now the film. It’s completely taken over our lives.”
“As far as we were concerned the documentary was the end of it,” adds Margaret. “Jamie had achieved what he wanted and we never thought in a million years that it would be turned into a musical, and now a film. It has just got bigger and bigger.
“Every time the phone rings something else has happened.”
Jamie is now forging a career in the creative industries in London, where he moved four years ago, but is touched that people recognise him and ask for autographs and selfies.
Margaret has no plans to leave her home in a Durham former mining village, where she works for the Samaritans. “Oh no. I’ve got too many friends and family there,” she says. “I love the bright lights but I like to go home after. I’m a home girl really.”
The show details some of the bullying Jamie experienced at school for being gay, and many of those approaching him tell him the show has helped them – whether to come out as gay to their parents or to cope with being bullied themselves.
“People are so positive about the show and say that it’s really helped them,” says Jamie.
Margaret adds: “I still get quite emotional when people come up to me and say something nice about Jamie, because this is the acceptance that he should have had back then.”
Jamie is following in his mother’s caring footsteps by taking over the show’s Twitter feed (@JamieMusical, #AskJamie) each Friday to dispense advice to fans. With the show’s producers they have been developing a schools education pack.