Sheffield actress Melissa Jacques steps into star role in West End musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Sheffield actress Melissa Jacques has just taken over a lead role in a huge hit West End musical created in her home city.
Melissa plays feisty mum Margaret in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the show about a would-be teenage drag queen who’s determined to wear a dress to his school prom.
The show was created in 2017 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield by city-born director Jonathan Butterell, writer Tom Macrae and songwriter Dan Gillespie Sells of band The Feeling.
It wowed Sheffield audiences before proving a huge success when the production transferred to London. A film version has also been shot in the city.
Melissa said: “I’ve been in the show already as a standby for the roles of Margaret, Ray and Miss Hedge and I’m now stepping into the role of Margaret.
“I have been on quite a lot for all three roles. Some weeks have gone by where I’ve been waiting in the green room for a week and show days can be long when you’re not doing anything.”
She joked: “I should be doing productive things like doing my taxes but being a working mum of two, I come to work for a break!”
But now life has changed for good. Melissa said: “It is so amazing that the producers have done that with Becky (previous Margaret actress Rebecca McKinnis) and I. Just because you’re an understudy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be playing those roles.
“Jonathan, Tom and Dan have given Becky and I this incredible opportunity to step up.”
Melissa never got the chance to see the Crucible production or the West End transfer because she was too busy working in the musical Kinky Boots.
She recalled her audition for the show: “I was a bit embarrassed to say I hadn’t seen it, although I’d seen the script before as I auditioned for one of the workshops for it.
“I had already seen the script and knew what it was about. I was just so excited when it was in Sheffield, to see my home town creating such incredible theatre. I knew so many people going to see it and wanted to be able to see it.”
Her character Margaret is a Parson Cross single mum who is determined Jamie should be the person he wants to be, no matter what.
“Because I’m from Sheffield, I see a lot of family and friends in Margaret and Ray (her best friend). I know these people. That’s what's been extremely special for me.”
Melissa, who is 44, grew up in Heeley and went to Newfield School.
She was a pupil at the city's Constance Grant Dance Centre and appeared in shows for Manor Operatic and Ellesmere Musical Theatre groups.
As a teenager she also sang with a band in working men's clubs.
She said her parents were amazing, supporting both her and brother Ritchie Humphreys, a professional footballer who has played for clubs including Sheffield Wednesday and Chesterfield.
After drama school in London, Melissa started working in musical theatre, appearing in the original cast of Mamma Mia!, touring in Spend, Spend Spend and in The Full Monty. Other notable shows include Wicked in the West End.
She said: “This role is a huge thing for me. It means the world and shows it can happen if you work hard, be kind, be nice. And you’ve got to have the 'chops' (talent) to go with it.”
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End. Bookings are currently being taken until January 25, 2020.
For details, go to everybodystalkingaboutjamie.co.uk