Jason Donovan: Singing? I don’t miss it one bit’

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Don’t you hate it when that happens – you are in the shower and the phone rings.

Cue mad dash for the towel, dripping feet padding into the lounge to reach the handset before it rings off.

We make it. Phew!

‘Hello, Sammy? It’s Jason.”

As in Donovan.

Better a household name and star of stage and screen than a cold caller trying to persuade us we need new double-glazing, right?

On Tuesday, Jason will return to the stage of MK Theatre, as maverick Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, the man responsible for helping King George VI (played by Raymond Coulthard) to overcome that crippling stammer.

A few minutes later we’re dried off and ready to roll when he calls back.

“This is a part I have been waiting to play for many years,” Jason starts. “The bar is pretty high in terms of trying to achieve something really great...hopefully I have.

The King’s Speech is a piece of drama, with not a single showy sing-a-long in sight.

It’s another remarkable stage turn for Jason who was last seen here in the glitzy Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

We loved his razor-sharp delivery as the demon barber Sweeney Todd too.

But though Jason’s stage resume is filled with musical success, first and foremost he is an actor.

“Acting really is in my body, that’s where I started and that’s where I feel most comfortable.

“I do not miss singing one bit, not one bit...I am a far more anxious singer than I am actor,” he reveals.

“I bring an honest interpretation of what I see, with good tools to back it up. That’s all I can really say.”

Working with Jason must be a director’s dream, and not only because having his name attached to a production ensures brisk business at the box office.

He is also an attentive perfectionist when it comes to his work.

So, on day one of rehearsals he is terrifically well versed: “I make sure I know the play backwards. I’m not someone that leaves any of that to chance,” he shares.

“I am quite fastidious about making sure I know my words and I’ve done a lot of research ...I’m not one of these stage actors who was born and bred to do it,”he tells me.

Mind you, Jason is getting better: “I think I’ve probably become a little bit more confident in the last 10 years – I have kids, I have family. You have got to go out there and push, and say ‘look at me.’

“Also let’s not forget that when I was in Neighbours at that point anything I would do got instant attention.

“I have probably had to fight for my survival over the last 12 or 15 years.”

That ‘N’ word – it must be a source of irritation having to constantly relive something that happened so long ago.

“I understand it, am proud of it and I am very grateful for it, but it doesn’t encompass my world as much as it encompasses the world of people who were emotionally attached to the show, and therefore speaking to me means a rekindling of their childhood.

“I get it, but I moved on a long time ago...”

Jason Donovan is still a household name, but these days the magnifying glass has been put away and the obsessive scrutiny he used to endure has disappeared.

“I wouldn’t swap what I’ve done for anything, I wouldn’t do it any differently,” he says, “...you can’t. I am proud of the work that I have done, and the person I am and the ups and the downs.”

He laughs: “I would like to work less though...”

While we chat, in the background Jason’s children are at play.

Jason – wh0 also hosts a weekly show for Heart FM –is in Sheffield with The King’s Speech, while his wife is in the Big Apple, taking in the Broadway opening of Finding Neverland.

No disrespect to Sheffield, but Broadway Vs the land of steel?

Someone clearly bagged the better deal, and I suggest it wasn’t you.

“I know...who’s won that fight?” he laughs.

Strangely, for someone who seems to be constantly on the road in production after another, Jason says he doesn’t relish touring.

“I’m not a massive fan, although I seem to do it all the time. I know how to do it well now and I certainly have ways of doing it – I like to stay in decent accommodation and all that stuff.

“But I think the one thing about touring is it gives me an opportunity to get on with my job and business so when I am at home I am a Dad and husband.”

Before we leave him to get back to the business of being Dad, he gives us the obligatory show plug: “It’s a great piece of entertainment. It is not just a play and you will get that when you see it.

“It is educational, funny and moving. It is about friendship, about fear, and there is something in there for everyone.

“I would be very surprised if people didn’t walk away going ‘That is one of the more interesting nights at the theatre I have had in a long time.’”

To book tickets for The Kings Speech – at MK Theatre until Saturday, May 9 – call 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes