For Jason Donovan it’s been a long and colourful road since his days with Neighbours. It may be well over 25 years since he and Kylie Minogue released the hit single ‘Especially For You’ off the back of the show’s success but the Australian performer is heading back out onto the road in February with his Ten Good Reasons & Greatest Hits tour, something he can’t wait to begin.
“I haven’t toured for about eight years,” begins the always-effervescent Jason Donovan. “I’ve toured with shows but I haven’t toured my own show so I guess it’s an opportunity to get out there and play those songs that people haven’t heard for a while.”
Along with the 1989 hit, his first album also featured two more UK number one hits – ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’ and ‘Sealed with a Kiss’ – as well as becoming the biggest selling UK album of the year. He will be performing the whole album during the show and is looking to take the audience on a trip down memory lane.
“I guess there’s a lot of people out there that will have bought the album Ten Good Reasons and I hope to give them a good quality show and remind them of memories they had many, many years ago and tell a couple of showbiz stories along the way,” he enthuses. “Music puts us into a time and place like no other medium can and that’s probably what I’m really aiming to be is very authentic and just entertain my audience.”
Fans of the London-based singer will no doubt remember his performance as Scott Robinson in Neighbours, as he married Charlene Mitchell (Kylie) in a now-renowned episode that reached over 20 million viewers in the UK alone. The story gripped Neighbours fans and was bigger than even he could’ve expected. “I can’t answer why it was so big but obviously there was a lot of chemistry between all of us and it was just very successful and, in those days, you didn’t have the internet and mobile phones and all that stuff to distract you so it was a big deal.”
During their time on the show Jason and Kylie started dating off-screen but after three years together they split in 1989, with Kylie starting a relationship with INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, a subject that is still somewhat tender. “We spent time together and those things happen sometimes when you’re working that closely, we were very young at the time but she was a good friend of mine and one thing led to another but that’s that really.”
Despite the breakup, the 47-year-old is still on talking terms with the ‘Spinning Around’ singer and when asked if she will be making an appearance on the tour, he teased us with a possible reunion saying, “Not that I know of as yet but you never know.”
After releasing his second album, ‘Between The Lines’, in 1990 he unexpectedly turned his sights to the big stage and accepted the lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. “I had a big pop career and that naturally came to its own conclusion and the opportunity to work with Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1991 was a pretty big deal,” he recalls.
“I never set out to be a musical theatre performer but that sort of found me and to that extent I’ve been very lucky to have carved a career in musical theatre. It does all the things that I do; sing, dance and act and I guess the success of Neighbours meant that I could put bums on seats and Joseph was a big hit in the West End.”
Soon after his transition into the world of theatre he developed a well-documented drug problem. It continued through the 90’s and in 1998 he took the lead role of Dr. Frank N. Furter in the UK production of The Rocky Horror Show, a role that was fitting at the time.
“I love characters and I’m not really a traditional musical theatre singer,” he explains. “Things like Rocky Horror and Priscilla (Queen of the Desert) are a bit more left of centre which is probably a bit more vindictive of my character, that’s why those things have worked for me later in my life but all the characters that have been successful for me are the ones that tend to emulate where I’m at mentally.”
It was on The Rocky Horror Show that he met the stage manager Angela Malloch and after a brief romance the two split. However, shortly afterwards she found out she had become pregnant with his child, and presented him with the ultimatum that he must quit drugs if he was to be a part their child’s life.
Now, after 16 years clean, he can reflect on that time. “I know what I don’t want to do now,” he quips. “The maths equation of how one gets to where one is mentally is hard for anyone to analyse or deduct unless you are the person that’s involved in it but there’s nothing to be proud of there. I don’t regret any of my life but as I said, I certainly know where I don’t want to be now.”
The couple are now happily married and have three children together, Jemma, Zac and Molly, and it is Angela that has been the rock the he has so often needed by his side. ”We really are best, best friends. She’s a strong lady and sometimes in my life I’ve needed someone with that strength and she’s a very intelligent woman and we’ve got three gorgeous kids, so happy days!”
As well as a career in musical theatre, Jason has now moved into radio, hosting the All 80’s Show on Heart Radio on Sunday evenings, which he has taken to with ease. “I enjoy radio, I think it’s a great medium and it’s great for me to do something that isn’t just theatre and that reaches out to a newer audience. I contribute to it a lot myself and it’s definitely a labour of love so it’s great fun, I enjoy it a lot.”
His main focus right now though is the current tour and after eight years he is glad to be back, performing his own hits. He says: “I really enjoy playing and I guess the thing about this is it’s my own show, so I get to put it together and I can produce it and do whatever I want to do with it. The first half will be more of a greatest hits collection and the second half will be fundamentally just the album, so it has it’s own narrative which is my story, so slightly biographical.”
The tour will visit the Brighton Centre on March 23, giving the eighties heartthrob the chance to return to a city he has a lot of time for. “I love Brighton. Brighton’s a great city, I love the beach and the sea and I love the diversity of shops there. You’ve also got people that are are quite young and forward thinking and there’s a lot of good food; I’m into very healthy food, that’s what I like so that’s what I’ll be looking for.”
The tour will continue until May, at which time Jason will be looking forward to a return home to spend time with Angela and the kids. “I’ve got some festivals in the summer but nothing’s really planned for later this year. We’ll see what happens but my main focus is the tour and I would like to think I would be spending a little bit more time at home these days.”
For more information on Jason Donovan’s Ten Good Reasons & Greatest Hits tour visit www.jasondonovan.com
Selfie time with Jason!