'Everybody’s Talking About Jamie' stars Ivano Turco and Talia Palamathanan discuss representation in casting

The actors, who play Jamie and Pritti, were speaking at a launch event for the show at London’s @sohoplace. The musical opens at the Peacock Theatre on 8 February.

Olivia Rook
Olivia Rook

Ivano Turco, who plays the title character Jamie New in the touring production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, has spoken about feeling “bewitched” after seeing videos of the original cast performing online.

Speaking at a launch event to promote the return of the hit musical to London’s Peacock Theatre on 8 February, Turco explained how important it was to see performers such as Layton Williams and Noah Thomas – who have both previously starred as Jamie – for representation within the industry.

“I found these videos of the OG cast and I was bewitched by what I had seen and then I was looking at the legacy that I had followed and thought ‘okay, Layton and Noah, these people have stepped into the role’ so now my head has gone ‘ding’ because I can walk that path, and I can represent that,” he said.

He continued: “I became very excited because we could tell the truth. For a lot of new roles that come into the industry for people of colour, your first worry, if it has been originated in a specific way, [is whether there is] a space for me next to that.”

Despite these concerns, Turco knew he wanted to be a part of the show. “That was my way in and even when I was doing other shows in town, my eye was always on this. I just needed to know as soon as there was a chance for me to be a part of this story."

Talia Palamathanan, who plays Jamie’s best friend Pritti Pasha in the show, agreed about the power of diverse casting in the musical.

“I started my journey with Jamie when I was 16 and I was the same age as the kids in the show. I just remember at the time it had this buzz around it. Everything was Jamie, that’s all you heard. So I went to see it with my entire family. I just remember thinking at the time that you know everyone on that stage. And that’s what I love about the show now. You know everyone, you see yourselves in all these characters, especially Pritti now for me. It’s such a rare occasion you get to see written South Asian women on stage in front of you, and for me and my entire family that was a ‘wow moment.’”

Palamathanan also discussed how she landed her role in the 2021 film adaptation of the musical: “I have to thank my mum, and Instagram, because she sent me an open call for the dancing for the film and for some serendipitous reason my English A Level was cancelled and it meant that I got to go to the open call of the audition. I was a back up dancer in the film, then the wonderful [choreographer] Kate Prince cornered me at a train station in Sheffield and asked me to audition for the tour. And then I was Becca, before Covid, and then Becca/Cover Pritti after Covid and now I’m Pritti. It’s always been a dream role for me. It’s such a rare thing in theatre to say that’s who I was as a kid. Pritti is that person who I was like ‘oh, that’s me.’ It’s so weird being so close to a role.”

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie opens at London’s Peacock Theatre on 8 February.

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Photo credit: Ivano Turco and Talia Palamathanan. (Photos courtesy of production)

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