Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and The Prom movies – do you prefer heart or zazz?
In my mind the musicals Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and The Prom are linked. Both are really fun musicals about a queer teen who wants to be themselves when they go to their high school prom and face resistance and rejection from those who tell them that it’s not okay. This is a link that a lot of people would not have been able to draw – unless they’re obsessed with looking up all the latest musicals (yes, me too!) or if they had the ability to have seen the shows both on Broadway and in the West End. I found it such a funny coincidence when they announced that both musicals would have their film adaptation coming out within 3 months of each other. To kick this off I’ll start with my thoughts on the stage musicals.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (ETAJ) is a brilliant musical. I loved it when I saw it at the cinema live screening, I loved listening to the soundtrack on repeat for about a month when I first found it and I loved it when I saw it in London. I think it is an important musical that talks about the universal theme of familial acceptance in amongst a lot of fun music, great choreography and with the added glamour of drag. The characters we see at Jamie’s school and the way they talk and respond to his stepping out of the norm feels very familiar. I feel like I know mean boys like that from my high school days. The thing about ETAJ is that it is, of course, incredibly British so whilst I love the musical, I don’t see it having the transferability to be huge all over the world or to transfer to Broadway.
Then when I was in New York last year, we had a spare evening and decided to pick up last-minute tickets for a show, and that show was The Prom. I had no prior knowledge going in, but I really enjoyed it and came away thinking *wow, that was like the American Jamie*. The difference is that where ETAJ has the secondary storyline about navigating complicated parent-son relationships, the subplot of The Prom is about the 4 disgraced Broadway stars trying to solve the small-town problems with their big personalities.
Now maybe I am biased toward the Brit version because it’s more familiar to my life, but I also think that ETAJ does a better job marrying its storylines to centre the theme of acceptance – it’s not only about Jamie’s ability to fit in and be himself at school but coming to terms with seeking acceptance from his parents and ultimately, of himself. Meanwhile, it feels like the secondary story in The Prom is more of a distraction, adding some wonderful zazz but missing the heart that we find in Jamie. That is not to say The Prom doesn’t have its heartfelt moments, but I just think that Jamie hits so much deeper while The Prom is a bit fluffier.
So far this continues to be the case from looking at the film trailers. Again, both movie musicals look like their going to be amazing, visually striking, and high energy films and I’m so excited to watch both. But again, I see ETAJ putting the acceptance of the young person finding their way first and foremost while The Prom seems to be more about the razzle dazzle star power of their celebrity cast. I was particularly nervous when all we had seen was the teaser trailer where you could hardly even see Emma and Alyssa at all (even though the story is supposed to be about them) but I’m reassured by their increased presence in the official trailer.
Regardless of my judgement between them, I am so excited to have two new movie musicals coming out and especially in such an accessible way so that more people can be introduced to contemporary musical theatre. Anything we can do that makes theatre more accessible to people is a brilliant thing in my eyes and I’m so excited to share these stories with my friends and family. Especially now (mid-pandemic) a little glitter in the grey is what we all need.
You can watch The Prom on Netflix from 11 December and in selected cinemas now.
You can watch Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in cinemas from 26 February.