Direct Donovan’s a stager who has earned his stripes

Graham Weaver as Felicia, Richard Grieve as Bernadette and Jason Donovan as Tick

Graham Weaver as Felicia, Richard Grieve as Bernadette and Jason Donovan as Tick

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Former popstar, now a pull for audiences on the stage, Jason Donovan is coming to Yorkshire. Nick Ahad finds him in combative mood.

“I’m not gonna lie to you mate, leaving the kids to go on tour – it’s not fun when I have to do that.”

“I don’t believe in luck, it’s been hard work.”

“On my day I am a triple threat, I can sing, dance and act.”

“Fame? Sometimes it can be a f****** nightmare.”

Jason Donovan is in strikingly honest form. It’s fair to say he has earned the right to be candid and it is no massive surprise that he takes the opportunity to be as straight as he likes in interviews. Barely out of his teens when he was the subject of massive speculation about his relationship with a certain Kylie Minogue, he also successfully sued The Face magazine when it published a story about him being gay and the tabloids were relentless when he admitted a drug problem.

He has had plenty of tabloid speculation about his life, so when he gets the chance to talk directly to the press, he grabs it firmly and does not pussyfoot around.

Donovan has done plenty of interviews – even more, perhaps, than the interviewer – and he leaves you in no doubt about that. It’s not that he’s rude, or brusque or anything like that, he’s just faced enough to know his mind when it comes to talking to the press.

Normally an interviewee, when talking about appearing in a touring show – as Donovan is – will talk about how they can’t wait to see a particular city. They toe the party line when promoting a show and tell you how great it is to be bringing whatever show it is to cities around the UK. Donovan’s got a different rulebook.

“Leaving the kids is hard, but it’s what you have to do when you are in my business,” he says. “Fact is though, you can’t just stay in one place, you have to go out on the road and do the tours. You only stay in one place if you’re Ken Barlow.”

Bad example?

“Maybe. But you know what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be out there and entertaining people. I’m happy to have a body of work and it is great that people will come and buy a ticket because Jason Donovan is in a show.”

Yes, he really does refer to himself in the third person, and no, he doesn’t actually appear to feel in any way self-conscious about doing so. As former soapstars-turned-popstars-now-stage-stars go, this is one who knows his own mind, knows his own worth and knows that at this point in his career he is a commodity being sold to audiences.

He also appears to know that the show he appears in, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which stops off in Bradford next week, is a winner.

“There aren’t too many shows that manage to marry great music with a great story that is about something,” he says.

“It’s a story about a group of people who are misfits – but we’re all misfits in our way. I think that’s why people love the show and why it speaks to so many. I genuinely do think it’s a musical for this generation.”

The stage show is an adaptation of the 1994 Australian comedy-drama film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, written and directed by Stephan Elliott.

The plot follows the journey of two drag queens and a transsexual woman across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a tour bus that they have named Priscilla, encountering various groups and individuals along the way.

Pop hits and sexual politics

Priscilla the stage musical features songs including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Finally, Boogie Wonderland, Go West, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and I Love The Nightlife.

“It is full of great music, but underneath all of that, it is a show that is actually about something. I think, if anything, the show has actually become even more pertinent as time has gone on. It’s 2013 and we are still discussing gay rights, gay marriage – I think that makes it more relevant than ever,” says Donovan.

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, Oct 7 to 12. Tickets 01274 432000.

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