News Column

Playing the Queen is never a drag ; stage

July 18, 2013

YellowBrix

It is 26 years since Scott and Charlene got married in Neighbours and little could anyone have predicted the two young soap actors would still be household names more than a quarter of a century later. Kylie Minogue's career needs no explanation and Jason Donovan enjoyed his own stint of pop stardom before turning to the stage. He has been regularly treading the boards in musical theatre for years now.

From Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to Sweeney Todd, via the Rocky Horror Show and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, it's a long way from the coy blond boy who nervously awaited his teenage bride in the Aussie soap.

Now he's back on the boards in a series of outlandish costumes on tour with Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, based on the hit Aussie film of the same name.

I did the show in London for 14 months about three years ago and I've been with the tour on and off for about six months, he said.

I work with nice people and it's a great show, that's usually enough to motivate me. While I think there's still life in a show, I don't get bored with it.

I also like to make sure I have nice holidays and do the things I like to do - and that costs money. Dipping in and out of a show like this means I can do that while still spending time with my wife and kids. Having not done it for a while, and knowing there was still an audience for it because it's not really been seen in the regional theatres, well, there just wasn't any good reason to say no! He admits the story of three friends trekking across Australia to a back catalogue of dancefloor classics of the '70s and '80s may not be every audience's taste.

It's a risk because it's not Cats, it's not Andrew Lloyd Webber, but word of mouth is a very strong thing and it's working because we're getting great houses, he said.

It's a story that doesn't discriminate, it's a celebration of life, a universal message about misfits, it's camp and colourful and fun.

Does he ever see himself being cast in one of the serious big musicals, such as Phantom or Les Mis? I think producers want a particular type of voice for those shows and I don't think my voice is suited to that type of musical theatre discipline, he said.

I could certainly act those parts, but it would concern me trying to sing those shows eight times a week. I tend to take parts I think I can add value to and I don't see any point in sitting there struggling to do something.

When I did Sweeney Todd, it was an actor-musician production and the emphasis was on that rather than singing. I auditioned for Jesus Christ Superstar once but they went for someone older.

Jason appeared as a judge on TV's search for a performer to play the title role in the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.

He said: I think I have the ability and experience to be able to judge, to give an opinion, but at the end of the day, the public has the vote.

Does the public get it right? After all, they see a televised performance, not the live studio one. The public are probably more astute and democratic than we maybe give them credit for, he replies.

But editing is a wonderful thing and the position of someone in the performance line-up, and the type and amount of coverage they get, makes an incredible difference, so let's not be fooled that it's actually a public vote.

That said, editors can only work with what they're given. If you're followed by cameras day in, day out, you have to be aware that anything you say can be misconstrued. There's a reason why you are still wearing the same clothes on day seven as you were on day one! info PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT is at Nottingham Royal Centre from July 22 to 27. Phone 0115 989 5555, or see: www.royalcentre-nottingham.com

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.


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