STAR STUDDED CAST…
As Aussie heartthrob Jason Donovan prepares to perform in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, he tells Live Preston and Fylde readers what it feels like to be reprising a role in this world-renowned musical. Photography: Tristram Kenton
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat arrives in Lancashire from the London Palladium this month. The star of the show playing Joseph back in the 1990s, Jason Donovan, went on to take the role as Pharoah, a role he is now playing for the third time.
Is Joseph as much fun to perform in as it is to watch?
“Absolutely. It’s such an uplifting show and it feels relevant to the world we’re living in right now to a certain degree, since it’s about overcoming adversity and having self-belief. It’s part of this country’s DNA in a way and this tour is the West End production put into local theatres so it’s a version of the show many people won’t have seen before.”
This is your third go-round as Pharaoh. What keeps pulling you back in?
“There’s so much history with Joseph for me and I was originally asked about recreating the role of Joseph himself. That didn’t come to fruition for a number of reasons and trying to recreate what I’d done in 1991 all these years later with me in my 50s was a bit of a non-starter. But I was keen to be part of it and when the opportunity to play Pharaoh came along I took it without thinking too much about it. It sort of works, you know? The song comes in Act Two and it’s a bit of a show-stealer. Because of my association with the show, I think it only increases the value of that moment and makes it more powerful.”
Joseph has been going strong over here since the early 70s. Why do you think audiences still love it?
“It’s a very simple show with a clear message. It was Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s first real outing as writers and it’s quite unique because that sort of greatness is often born out of raw talent. When I first heard Any Dream Will Do I thought it was a cheesy lullaby but everyone told me if I recorded it, it would be a massive hit. I didn’t believe them but to this day I can go out and sing it at one of those retro festivals like Rewind and Let’s Rock and the place goes nuts. And it’s not kids who are going nuts, it’s the adults!”
Jac Yarrow plays Joseph now. Having originally played the role yourself, how do you rate him as a performer?
“He’s a very well-polished performer. He’s incredibly talented and he’s a great singer, and he’s got a lot of energy. It’s hard to compare the two and it’s hard to compare the two of us as performers, but he’s a great guy and I think the innocence and the spirit of Joseph is not only in the character but also in the person playing him.”
You’ve done lots of musical theatre since the 90s. What have been your favourites?
“The musical that was a magical moment for me was Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It was such an incredible production and they spent so much money on the bus, the set and the costumes. The Rocky Horror Show was another good one. There have been some dodgy ones too, but we won’t talk about those!”
Looking back on your early pop career, what were your highlights from that time?
“It was a dream come true for me to have a number one single in this country, the year’s biggest selling album and to be meeting people I’d looked up to. I think you create your own luck in life but I was in a TV series that was massively successful so luck is one thing, but timing is also really important. With the success of Neighbours I was looking towards other things and at the time I was watching what Kylie was doing because I was always fascinated by pop music. I saw what she was doing and I said ‘I’d like a bit of that’. Then Stock Aitken Waterman came along and off it went. I think once people hear a song that’s sort of the soundtrack to them growing up – like Too Many Broken Hearts, Especially for You and Any Dream Will Do, which are my three biggest hits – it becomes part of their lives. Those songs to this day are keeping me alive and ultimately, I think that’s why singers want pop hits because they never leave you.”
When were you last on tour and what are you most looking forward to about getting back out there with Joseph?
“I did my own Even More Good Reasons tour before Christmas and I had a few more dates to finish. But Joseph is my first time touring in a theatrical sense in a long time and I think it’s great the show is getting out there because it’s such a fantastic production. I miss being at home but the good thing about this particular show is that I’m not going to be stressed out too much because I don’t have lots to do in it. I’m enjoying it because I’m not exhausted by it. It’s a win-win for me.”
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is staged at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, 25th-30th July