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SHOW REVIEW: Up close and personal with Jason Donovan in Spalding

When it was announced that Jason Donovan was coming to Spalding, it wasn’t long before tickets sold out for the show at the South Holland Centre.

I was one of the audience (mostly of women!) at the event last night. While I was going along to review the show, I have to admit I was a Jason fan while growing up in the late 80s and early 90s. I even had his Ten Good Reasons album on cassette.

When I later went to see him in Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in London’s West End on a school trip, I managed to get him to autograph my treasured cassette.

Sadly, I’m not quite sure what happened to that cassette and as I grew up, my music tastes changed and I moved on as new artists came along.

Jason Donovan Photo: Rhian AP Gruffydd (6757529)
Jason Donovan Photo: Rhian AP Gruffydd (6757529)

This tour, which he has called Jason Donovan and his Amazing Midlife Crisis, is a kind of therapy for him, he tells the audience in an opening montage looking back on his career.

The montage plays on a screen on the stage before Jason walks on, still looking as handsome as ever. It’s an intimate show, and he bares his soul to the audience, talking about the highs, and lows, of his career.

He turned 50 last year, he tells us in that soothing Australian drawl we know so well, and he himself says he can’t believe the young man who performed on Top of the Pops with ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’ at number one was really him.

Jason is honest with the audience when he talks about his battle with drugs. “I didn’t drink until I was in my 30s,” he said. “I tasted alcohol once and I didn’t like it.

“I am in no way condoning drugs but I am just explaining what happened to me,” he said.

We knew parts of the story, from what had been reported in the media, but he was honest in the show about his demons.

From finding fame as Scott Robinson in the Aussie soap Neighbours and that famous wedding with Charlene Mitchell (played of course, by Kylie Minogue) and watched by 20 million British viewers, to becoming a pop sensation, Jason was on top of the world.

But that high point didn’t last forever and after playing Joseph in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Jason seemed to disappear for a while.

We knew parts of the story, from what had been reported in the media, but he was honest in the show about his demons.

Thankfully, he came out the other side and is now happily married with three children, having met his wife while he was starring as Dr Frank N Furter in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. She was working behind the scenes.

Now living a cleaner life, he has had other struggles. Over recent times he has begun to struggle with his voice and at one time feared he could lose it completely. For someone who relies on his voice for his career (in acting, singing and presenting) this was a traumatic time for Jason.

He didn’t go into the full story but instead said that through treatment, including Botox injections into his neck, he is managing it. But it has clearly had an effect.

He talked to us about his time in reality TV shows ‘I’m a Celebrity’, and ‘Strictly Come Dancing,’ and about Kylie.

“We were in a relationship,” he confirms to the audience. There are many references to Kylie in the show and it is not clear whether he genuinely feels put out by her spiralling success, while he didn’t quite match the dizzying heights of her fame today – or whether it is all in jest.

There are also references to fellow Aussie actors Hugh Jackman and Guy Pearce (who accepted a role in the huge movie cult hit Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which Jason turned down). He entertains us with a couple of songs and plenty of humour throughout the show. He clearly can still sing and performed a beautiful acoustic version of ‘Too Many Broken Hearts.’

It was an honest show, with Jason completely down-to-earth with the audience. Who can’t help but love him?


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