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In The Market - My evening spent with Jason Donovan

Raymond Coulthard (King George VI) and Jason Donovan (Lionel Logue). Picture by Hugo Glendinning
Raymond Coulthard (King George VI) and Jason Donovan (Lionel Logue). Picture by Hugo Glendinning

To the Corn Exchange for a night with Jason Donovan and his show about his “Amazing Midlife Crisis”.

The title, as he admitted at the top of the show, was something of a come-on. He’s happily married and settled in his career and compared to the turmoil he suffered much earlier in his life, is far from in a crisis situation.

But as it happened life rather imitated life in this case as having come up with the idea for a largely speaking tour, talking about his life in showbusiness and the journey he has made from Neighbours to West End star, he was hit by something of a health crisis.

The show was originally due to come to King’s Lynn as part of the tour in November. But getting on for a year ago he started to notice that his voice was struggling.

Soon he was sounding like someone with pretty bad laryngitis, as a video he played made last November, testified.

It took an unsuccessful operation on his vocal cords, followed by successful treatment by botox in the larynx to cure him of the problem.

As he said, although strangely it seemed to only affect his speaking, rather than singing, voice, it was terrifying for an actor to be contemplating the one tool you cannot do without on stage.

I should say here that the choice to go to see the show was very much my wife’s. I never watched Neighbours when he was in it, thought Stock, Aitken and Waterman the worst sort of disposable pop and have not seen him in the numerous musicals he’s starred in, such as Joseph and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

In fact, the audience was about 85 per cent female.

Norfolk audiences can be a bit hard to warm up, but no problem here. They were commendably lively.

Sadly though, Jason wasn’t quite on the case on Saturday as he was obviously suffering quite badly from a a cold.

He wasn’t really helped by the chap who was supposed to be interviewing him. Let’s just say, he was no Michael Parkinson.

The show had something of an ad hoc feel about it and there were a few walk-outs that I saw from the packed auditorium, probably from people who thought they wre going to get an all- singing, all-dancing show from the former Strictly finalist.

That was a pity, because actually there was some good stuff in there. He touched on his descent into drug madness in the 90s, that eventually saw him collapse on the dance floor of the Viper Room in LA.And Although we only got two songs, they were good ones, done acoustic style, Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and Too Many Broken Hearts.

I think perhaps a couple more songs and a more structured approach may have helped the night but you certainly came out feeling that he was an all-round good guy.

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