Jason Donovan performs at Stafford and Telford - review and pictures
Many of us grew up with him when he starred in Neighbours.
Jason Donovan was the good-looking, sun-tanned beach bum who dated Kylie on and off-screen before launching a pop career and scoring the best-selling album of 1989, with Ten Good Reasons.
He went on to dazzle London’s West End in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Priscilla Queen of the Dessert.
With his 50th birthday on the horizon – remarkably, it’s three days the other side of Kylie’s birthday – he’s taken to the road in his Amazing Mid Life Crisis Tour. He visited Telford on Tuesday night and was last night at Stafford Gatehouse.
The autobiographical show combined a confessional spoken word section interspersed with questions from the audience – the best one was ‘Stage door or Wetherspoons? 10PM’ – with a few acoustic songs.
And it worked – frequently with hilarious effects. Donovan’s show was punctuated by the merry sound of laughter as he had members of the audience in the palm of his hand.
Donovan took to the stage for an illustrated monologue in which the hilarious stories came thick and fast. A tale about Gary Barlow, Kylie Minogue and Bouncer the overfed dog from Neighbours had the audience in hysterics and brought the first round of applause of the evening. Similar tales – including ones about George Michael, Sir Elton John and others – were belly-laugh-funny and ever-so-slightly anarchic. A brilliant anecdote about upstaging U2 nearly brought the house down as Donovan recalled how he’d been hashtagged #Legend by Stella McCartney and a group of supermodels after an aftershow party for the Irish rockers.
Donovan has been many things during his colourful career: heart-throb, cocaine abuser, dad, mega star, actor, musical theatre performer and more. But on his Mid Life Crisis tour he’s also a comic. His timing, his engagement with the audience and his ability to tell a great story cast him as an unexpected stand-up. Stories about the perils of fame, a fan who waited at the stage door for him in Glasgow and his love for his family and a normal life were delivered with great panache.
“What do your kids think of their famous dad?” somebody asked.
“I’m embarrassing,” he deadpanned.
“Or, at least I was until I started winning on Strictly. Then it all changed.”
During the show, Donovan asked how many fans had attended his signature 1990 tour, which included four nights at Wembley Arena?
“Great,” he laughed, when few people responded.
“Four of you.”
He asked how many had enjoyed his 2016 Ten Good Reasons tour? “Ok, getting better. About 15.”
The 500-plus crowd laughed.
“It’s just nice to know that the older I get the more fans I seem to attract.”
The show featured a number of stage costumes and Donovan shared tales of his time on I’m A Celebrity and Strictly Come Dancing during a fast-paced and funny second half.
He seemed to genuinely enjoy his time with the Telford crowd and frequently thanked them for his support. And the audience responded with humorous ribbing and plenty of banter – at one point, a woman even stopped the show to demonstrated her impression of a duck. The audience howled. Perhaps you just had to be there.
The second half started and ended with songs – Donovan beautifully re-interpreting two classic hits in acoustic format.
And after a breathless two hours it was all over. The only question left unanswered was this: did he wait at the stage door or head off to Wetherspoons?
Jason Donovan returns to the region in autumn at Shrewsbury Theatre Severn on September 6 and Brierley Hill Civic Hall on September 7.