It is not every youngster at a Northamptonshire school who can go from there to Hollywood working on a movie of his own musical.
But that is the journey taken by former Campion School youngster Tom MacRae, who’s musical Everybody’s Talking about Jamie is being broadcast live in cinemas across the country next week.
Jamie New is 16 and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future.
He is going to be a sensation. Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.
But while it might be set in Sheffield comprehensive, it has its roots in Northamptonshire.
Tom, who was born in Weedon Bec, said: “It is the comprehensive that many of us went too and grow up in. The set is even architecturally based on Campion and the schools that all of us went to.
“I was talking to the director Jonathan Butterell and lyricist Dan Gillespie Sells and even though we both went to schools in different parts of the country they were the same. But it is also in the attitude of those schools. In the show, Jamie wants to go to the prom in a dress. I think we all have a ‘dress’ or a persona that we have at school but don’t show because we want to fit in.
“I knew I always wanted to be a writer and working in Hollywood and now I am there. But I would never have said that when I was at school as you don’t want to stand out.”
He also hopes that the cinema screening will encourage people to come and see the show and also act as an inspiration.
Tom added: “It is a great way for the show to be seen by people who can’t get to London.
“What I would really love is for the kids at my old school to come and see the show and be inspired by what you can achieve if you follow your dreams, which is a great message.”
He describes the show as a mother son love story and it is one that audiences have really grabbed on to.
Tom said: “We have people of all ages coming to see the show which is wonderful, although there is some language in the show which hopefully the parents have made the kids aware of.
“But there are lots of parents who have been able to have conversations with their kids made a lot easier as a result of seeing the show, which is wonderful.”
Tom, who created the Comedy Central series Threesome, the TV adaptation of Fungus the Bogeyman and episodes of Doctor Who, says the musical is his favourite thing he has ever worked on.
He said: “I am not sure that I will ever have an experience like this ever again on something I work on. We went from thinking is this show ever going to work considering it was a new musical with no stars and new songs, yet word of mouth spread and we were transferred to the West End, and then there were a lot of conversations with Hollywood producers as a result of them coming to see the show.”
He is working on the musical adaptation, which he hopes will hit the big screen in 2020.
Tom said: “The screenplay is in a really good place, we are really happy with it.
“We have a cast of 11 in the show to sum up the whole school. For a movie, you would need 30 for a class and probably 1,000 for a whole school. We will be starting auditions soon and I imagine for those kids it will be a life changing experience. Maybe it will be someone who watches the show when it is being shown at cinemas.”
For a complete list of places showing the musical visit www.jamieincinemas.com