Bright, brash and absolutely fabulous, the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is everything that a night out should be in London’s West End.

The show tells the story of Sheffield teenager Jamie who overcomes bullying and the rejection of his father to emerge peacock-like as a glittering drag queen.

Staged at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, a short skip from the bars of Soho, it is a show that feels instantly at home – and audiences can’t get enough.

Presciently, that slightly awkward title has proved self-fulfilling: in London’s Theatreland, Everybody really is talking about Jamie. Starring Jophn McCrea in the title role alongside Rebecca McKinnis and Shobnu Gulati (Dinnerladies and Coronation Street), it’s an all singing and dancing, shimmying and sashaying spectacular which will reaffirm your love of musicals.

Lovingly stepping into the ballet pump footsteps of Billy Elliot, it follows the well-worn trope of a working class kid struggling to find himself and fend off the mockery and hostility of less sensitive souls. We’ve seen it before – Little Voice, The Full Monty, Brassed Off – but it’s a journey that still raises the spirits.

With great train and bus services between Oxford and London it is tempting to hit a show and return. But it is so much more fun to stay over, do it properly and spoil yourself.

And while hotel prices in central London may require selling a bodily organ or going without food for a month, great bargains can be had by fixing your gaze a little further out.

The Park Plaza in Park Royal sits beside Western Avenue, along which you’ll dart (or, more likely crawl) on your way into ‘the Smoke’ from Oxford. It sits opposite the delightful art-deco Park Royal Underground Station, on the Piccadilly Line – perfect for a night out in the West End but far enough out to make driving and parking a sensible option.

Finishing work on a Friday night we trundled down the M40, arriving there in under an hour, and after a quick drink in the bar, took the subway under the A40 and onto the Tube – emerging half an hour later under the gaze of Eros in Piccadilly Circus.

The Apollo is one of those great London theatres – all ornate plasterwork and gilded balconies, yet is intimate enough to feel absorbed in the action on stage. And it would take a very hard heart not to get involved in the sequin-studded journey of Jamie and his predictably roller-coasting journey to drag diva triumph.

After the show, we joined the selfie-snappers and autograph hunters by the stage door and chatted with the cast (still endearingly delighted to meet fans despite what must be an exhausting two-acts), then joined the beautiful people in Soho – bar-hopping along Old Compton Street towards that old journalistic hangout The Coach and Horses in Greek Street – a dowdy, but always lively, watering hole with its friendly bar staff and, if you time it right, resident top-hatted pianist bashing out knees-up sing-along anthems.

Then it’s back onto the tube to Park Royal.

Despite its prosaic surroundings, the Park Plaza is a funky spot. At night it towers over Western Avenue like an illuminated ultramarine egg box. Inside it is brighter still, with pop-art style furniture and bright spaces.

Much is made of the hotel’s proximity to Wembley – indeed the landmark arch dominates the skyline – making it the perfect spot for sports fans and music lovers with a date at the stadium.

It’s also well placed for business travellers who can be on the A40 within seconds of leaving the car park. But at the weekend it is families who fill its 120 superior and 92 studio rooms. We took a superior, which, starting at £95 on a Friday is nigh-on unbeatable in the capital.

Being a few drinks in and avoiding the charms of the West End’s late night eateries and vendors of deeply questionable hot dogs, we arrived peckish and hit the bar for a nightcap and, to our delight, freshly made bacon and sausage rolls.

It was more than enough to tide us over before the mother of all breakfasts the next morning – the tunes of Everybody’s Talking about Jamie still high-kicking their way around my head.


STAY: Park Plaza London Park Royal, 628 Western Ave, London W3 0TA

Prices start at £95 for one night’s accommodation in a Superior Room, based on two people sharing on a Friday.

GET THERE: Drive - with cheap parking on site, or use public transport. Park Royal (Piccadilly line) is less than five minutes’ walk away.

DO: See a show – Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at The Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave, Soho, London. Tickets: £10 to £65.