Jason Donovan brings Priscilla, Queen of the Desert the Musical to Brighton and Southampton

Jason Donovan is a first-time producer – alongside old friend Mark Goucher – for a show which has been a major part of his career.
Star of the show Joe McFadden (left) and producer Jason Donovan. Credit Darren BellStar of the show Joe McFadden (left) and producer Jason Donovan. Credit Darren Bell
Star of the show Joe McFadden (left) and producer Jason Donovan. Credit Darren Bell

Mark and Jason are working together on Priscilla, Queen of the Desert the Musical which will be the Christmas show at Brighton Theatre Royal this year.

It plays Brighton from Tuesday, December 17-Saturday, January 4 before moving on to Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from Monday, January 13-Saturday January 18.

As Jason says: “Priscilla and I go back a long way.”

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He was in the cast of the original West End production and two subsequent UK tours.

“So really this was a pretty easy decision in terms of me producing. I am producing something that I know extremely well. Mark Goucher and I go back in terms of The King’s Speech and Million Dollar Quartet. Mark took a punt on me, particularly as an actor in The King’s Speech… and as I say, Priscilla and I go back a long way as well, so it seemed like a logical step.

“It is not completely new territory. I have produced for years. I have produced ten of my own shows, and I am currently producing my Mid-Life Crisis one-man show. I am paying wages to people. I have to find money from the promoter to get the shows on the road and do the budgets.”

Inevitably, the satisfactions are different ones: “The prize really is to make sure that you are producing something that you really believe in. When I am doing my one-man show, I know that it is something that comes from my heart and that I believe in. But when you are producing something that someone else has written, you have also got to feel the same way.”

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Won’t he just wish, when it comes to it, that he was actually in it, though?

“I have whipped that pony many times. I sat in on the last round of auditions and I read opposite the main people… but no, I didn’t want to get up and do it. I have done it, and that’s why I have decided to take a different role. I don’t want to have that kind of eight-shows-a-week slog. Priscilla is a big show and requires a lot of energy, and as I get a little bit older, I am not wanting to be touring up and down the country for six months. I don’t want to be away from my wife and family.”

So what makes it such a great show?

“It is Australian. It is about diversity. It is a modern musical and a really interesting musical. As much as I love that old-fashioned world, I love Rocky Horror and the newer things, the shows that are maybe slightly confrontational but have still got a lot of heart. It is a story about three very different people that come together and that realise that we are all human. And it is has got some fantastic upbeat colourful tunes.”

Plus, of course, as he says, it is Australian.

“As you can hear I have definitely not lost too much of my Australianness, but I don’t think I am as much of an Aussie as I used to be. But I have always been very proud of my culture and my background and my people. It is a wonderful country, and Australia produces some great moments when it stays true to itself. Australia is a meritocracy and a really great country…

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“And that’s why I haven’t lived there for 30 years,” he laughs.

Jason couldn’t really see himself going back there permanently, but maybe he would like to spend more time there in the future: “But I have got my kids here and my family here… though my oldest daughter has just joined the cast of Neighbours!

“But I have actually lived here longer than I have ever lived in Australia. I moved here in 1991… and I just love the people here and I love the country. With my Mid-Life Crisis show, I have done nearly 150 dates, and some of the places I have been to, I had never heard of before. It has been great.”