Shane learns to walk tall

SHANE Richie had no problem taking on the stage role of a drag queen… except for adapting to the required footwear.

Following an enforced break during the COVID theatre closures, the EastEnders star has returned to the part of Hugo and his drag queen alter ego Loco Chanelle, in the feelgood musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

Shane Richie as Loco Chanelle with other drags queens in the cast, including Layton Williams (seated)

There was only one snag to his preparation for the show, which is coming to Woking soon.

“I’ve had a nightmare with the high heels,” he says. “With my left calf muscle, even when I just talk about putting on the heels, I can feel it twinging.

“It’s one thing standing in five-inch heels, it’s another thing to walk in them and another thing entirely to dance in them.

“Layton Williams and the other drag queens in the show helped me. I’d do the school run, then come home, put the heels on and walk around the kitchen. My wife was like ‘Seriously, if the Tesco delivery man comes you’re not answering the door’.”

Shane, who is best known for his TV role as Alfie Moon in EastEnders, says one thing he didn’t have a problem with was donning glamorous female clothes.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will be strutting into New Victoria Theatre on Tuesday 15 March

“My dad used to run clubs in London so from the age of 10 I was used to seeing men in drag,” he recalls. “Then, on one of my very first tours, when I was 17 or 18, there were three drag queens and two strippers in the show.

“I knew drag queens, I grew up with them, and I knew Danny La Rue. It’s funny now, if you’d have said to me 30-odd years ago that drag would be mainstream I’d have said ‘don’t be stupid’. But drag is mainstream now, and quite rightly so.”

Inspired by a true story, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the tale of a teenage boy who wants to be a drag queen and wants to wear a dress to his school prom. “It’s so relevant,” says Shane

“We’re in a country where there are so many social, political and cultural changes going on and people are being divided.

“We’re getting angry with each other, there’s the far left and the far right, then here’s a show that goes ‘Be who you wanna be, let others be who they want to be and celebrate diversity’.”

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will strut into the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, next week from Tuesday 15 March until Saturday 20 March.

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