The below Q&A has been taken from the transcript of our YouTube video
As part of 2020’s Virtual West End LIVE series, Layton Williams and Noah Thomas got together to talk about their experiences playing Jamie New in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – one of most inspiring (and extremely sassy!) musicals in London. We asked them four questions and you can read their fierce and fabulous responses below!
1. What is the funniest thing to happen on stage?
Noah: Okay, funniest thing to happen on stage was David O’Reilly, who is one of our drags, is the funniest human being on the face of planet Earth and there’s a scene where Jamie is just been outside the drag club with Dean and he feels very conflicted as to whether or not he should go through with his drag show and there’s a wig, a bob wig like Nessa from Gavin and Stacey wig and David put it on and I come in and I’m like mom I can’t go! I turn around, see him and we all break, it was the funniest thing that’s ever happened and David got in so much trouble but I think it was like a Wednesday matinee as well so very quiet, so he was like let’s liven it up and it was the funniest thing that’s ever happened, it was brilliant.
Layton: Oh, it’s them small things that just make you absolutely scream and especially when you have to be giving it full serious. That’s actually happened to me on that specific point of the show when I’ve run on and I could turn to see Hugo and like Shae’s eyelash, it’s just like bam like and he looks like he’s looking at either side of the wall but not at me and or his makeup is just like you know, he’s had a busted day and he’s just looking it’s like it’s a bit much. Oh dragged through her head and it’s so hard to try and be, that’s quite emotional and drama that bit and you have to be serving the things and do you know what I do? I just do a (Layton covers his face with his hands). Like, I’m acting but I’m being like sad like because otherwise… But of course, with all that aside, we are very professional and we keep things cute.
Noah: Yeah we are, I feel like the thing is, the longer you’re in the show the more times you find to like mess about and have a little bit of a silly moment but for the most part we are very professional. I don’t think we have time to be unprofessional, we are on all the time.
2. How does the story personally resonate with you?
Layton: Okay, so for me this is very, some bits are very similar you know. I’m a gay boy from a Northern background, grew up on a council estate, very much so that. But I feel like Jamie at 16 was me at 12. Like I was doing the gig, I was running around town, I was making things happen. I was off to London already so there’s some aspects that I completely relate to but in others like I was already like 10 steps ahead, which is neither like a good thing or a bad thing but it’s just the way it happens. So sometimes in rehearsals I’d have to say to myself, like whoa whoa whoa, like you at 16 is a different way of acting as Jamie at 16. Do you know what I mean?
Noah: It’s interesting isn’t it because you feel like, I don’t know. I think I’ve always thought because he was so confident, I’m like I wish I had a bit of that confidence in me when I was 16 because I definitely didn’t. It was a massive, is a massive learning curve of that like, to have someone be that confident and you have to exude that all the time. But I think for me the reason it resonates with me is just because it’s about regular life and regular people and I think because it sits so well in sort of British culture, as in it’s not like we’re not over emotional but yet we’re not you know, we can still sort of set it out and talk about things. I think it’s very interesting in that in the emotional sense and in terms of the dialogue. But I think for me, I think just wanting to sort of like… I used to find it very hard to sort of embrace being like the star of my own show and I think Jamie does that really well. Like he sort of just embraces that and so like every night, especially in like Work Of Art and Don’t Even Know It, I’m like, I am Beyonce and no one can tell me differently right now. Like when we come forward on that charge I’m like, I’m beyond, I’m Beyonce, I am, I just am and it’s amazing, those moments I love as well. I love just being like a boss with like a full army of year 11’s, it’s amazing.
Layton: There’s no better feeling than that charge down. *sings* Boom boom boom boom, work of art, work of art work. Why am I pretending like I’m singing that?
Noah: Why are we pretending we’re back on stage? I actually live so much during it and I think it’s because I spend the whole time trying to be in the moment and then there’s that, when you’re just free and you’re just like bam but like I love finding those times so yeah, I love doing that.
Layton: No and we should all take a little bit of that of Jamie into our lives and be the star of our own shows. This is not a dress rehearsal, we are here, we have this one time, this one life to kill it. I think like you know it was a few years back for me and I just had this mantra and literally I’m not even moments because like I came to slay. I used to say it to me, I was like I came to slay, I came to slay, I am gonna do this and just yeah, make it happen.
3. What are the highs and lows of being in the show?
Noah: The highs I think is… I was having a conversation with a cast member about this the other day, it’s just the the the pure joy we all get out of it like everyone, we have such a laugh every day and I think because the show is so funny but then has moments of such drama and intensity as well, I think when we can find the time to really just have fun, like in warm up, everyone’s catching up, everyone’s having a good time. And then the finale as well, it’s just pure, it’s joy. Sharon D. Clarke said deep deep joy and that’s what it is.
Layton: Yes Sharon! I gave her her Olivier Award, that was the most amazing thing ever.
Noah: Yes that was the award you gave, go on!
Layton: Yes – grabbing Shane out of the spotlight so she could have a moment. Oh, I’ll never forget it.
Noah: That’s what she said. Deep deep joy.
Layton: Exactly and you know what, you know what like resonates with me 100% with the finale, like you cannot not feel just like, yes, and there’s a question here about our favourite song and that for me is mine just because I’m like, I’ve done the whole journey, we’ve been on the roller coaster and it’s like okay honeys well this is it, did you enjoy it? Sheffield, Birmingham…let me hear you scream and scream they do. In my eyes a show that everyone can relate to in some way if you felt like you’re different and like you don’t fit in and that’s why the show is so popular. Everyone goes out of that show and their hearts just open a little bit more. Doesn’t matter whether you want to be a drag queen or not, like it’s not about that, it’s about really digging deep inside and you know, it’s love like, it’s yeah, it’s special. Oh the more I talk about it, the more I miss it.
Noah: Yeah definitely right. And to answer the other part of the question, there are no lows. That doesn’t makes sense, like, you’re going to be tired and exhausted, it’s part of the journey. that’s the unwritten contract, that you’re going to be tired all the time but that comes with the job.
Layton: Yeah you can’t be giving it socials every single night, going around, running out to freedom like everybody does like back in the day that I could have done. Now it’s you know, car, home, bed, food, thank you, see you tomorrow.
4. What does the moral of the show and the message in the story mean to you?
Layton: I would say, like I said earlier, like the moral of the show is to stay true to yourself, to be you, to celebrate you, to accept and forgive others also and you know, don’t be scared if somebody else is difference. I feel like a lot of the drama for Jamie’s because other people put their stuff on them, do you agree? Like his dad, his mom’s lying, if everyone just kind of kept it cute and kept it true, we’d have no story though.
Noah: Very that. I think it is. I think it’s about embracing who you are – good bad and the ugly. Like the mistakes you make, the people in your life and the positive things that come through life as well and sitting back and thinking when you know, it’s sort of like this whole pandemic situation like, when you take everything away what do you have? You have your health, you have your family, you have a roof over your head, you have food, like just being grateful for the things you have and I think that’s, that’s Jamie’s journey ultimately is that. You know, he knows he’s going to go do all these amazing things but at the end of the day he’s got his mom, he’s got his best friend he’s got his auntie Ray, he’s got his community and that’s all he needs right now so yeah just, it’s about positivity in that sense which I love.
Layton: And the show thinks you’re gonna chuck Jamie to London and stuff but really the at the end of the show he’s putting his bins out, he’s in his full glam and he’s home and he’s happy and you know home is where the heart is and I’m actually home at the moment as you are as well and it’s just so nice to be like yes, it’s the first day I’m back to it and it’s like oh, singing in the streets walking down my council estate this morning I was like yes God, let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s seize the day!
Layton: To anybody listening at home, you do you boos, stay safe, stay fab, stay fierce, keep smiling and hopefully we will be back on the stage soon slaying and you can come down and watch us at the Apollo or on tour but until then yeah peace and love from both of us.
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