Interview with ex-Neighbours star Jason Donovan

Jason Donovan first found fame as Scott Robinson, beau of Kylie Minogue's Charlene, in Australian soap Neighbours. This summer he joins the 10th anniversary tour of Here and Now: the Very Best of the 80s. He talks to Jenny Mark-Bell

You recently released an album, Soundtrack of the 80s. The forthcoming tour also celebrates the best of that decade. Why do you think people get so nostalgic about the 80s?Well it’s a generational thing, isn’t it? It’s nothing to do with one particular decade, it’s more to do with an era of people who have grown up listening to certain types of music and want to reminisce.   I have put off doing this brand before but I thought on the 10th anniversary it would be nice to embrace it. I don’t think the Eighties are going to be as poignant in five years time as they are now, but that’s the cycle of popular culture. It’s just an interesting thing to be a part of really. When you put a tour on sale it’s quite stressful if you’re doing it yourself, unless of course you’re Take That and you sell out in five minutes. I wish my currency was as strong as that, but it’s not and that’s the reality I live in. Something like this enables me to play to big audiences.

What can audiences expect from the tour and what are you most looking forward to? I do a lot of live work, and there is nothing like getting up in front of an audience and just seeing what happens. There’s a bunch of songs that people know and love from my back catalogue, and that always puts a smile on my face. Every show is a bit different. On this particular tour, it will be good to share the experience with a bunch of acts that had prominence in the same period.

You performed at the Brighton Centre late last year in War of the Worlds, as The Artilleryman. Can you tell me about the role, the show and the experience of appearing in such a well-loved production?I had a great experience doing that show. It’s a big show, my part was pivotal, you’ve got an orchestra behind you…it’s not an opera, it’s not a musical, it’s a sort of concept record. I just loved that experience – I think it’s up there with some of my best work. It’s a little different doing Here and Now, but variety is the spice of life!

Do you have any fond memories of performing in Sussex? Are there any places you like to visit in the county?I have played Brighton on a number of occasions and I always enjoy being by the seaside. I have to say, the whole organic lifestyle you have down there is very alluring. It has that bohemian feel which is close to my heart, being an Australian.

Your performances in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and other musical theatre earned you rave reviews. Would you describe yourself now as primarily an actor or a singer?I think I’m an actor that sings. I’m an interpreter of emotions and I wish I could write my own script more often. Writing songs is a bit of a hobby for me. I’m still discovering what I am really – I do a radio show on the weekends that I really enjoy, I do lots of varied work and that’s sort of the way I like it. It keeps me fresh and young…ish.

Congratulations on the recent addition to your family [Jason and his wife Angela welcomed a baby girl, Molly, in March]. At present you’re touring with The Sound of Music, which will be followed by Here and Now. How do you balance a hectic tour schedule with the demands of a young family? I do have a hectic schedule, but I quite like it that way. In this business it’s either all or nothing, so for someone like myself it’s better to be busy and then your downtime is your downtime. Put it this way, when I am home I’m appreciated, which is always nice.

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To many people you are still Scott from Neighbours. Do you think that will ever go away? No! I’m sure Kylie gets asked the same question, I’m sure Guy Pierce gets asked the same question, I’m sure Natalie Imbruglia gets asked the same question. It’s something I am very proud of. Is there more to life than Neighbours? Absolutely. Has life gone on? It has. But it was a great period of my life and I’m very proud of it.

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