Jason Donovan on returning to Joseph – and passing the multi-coloured coat on

It’s one of the roles that pop idol and actor Jason Donovan is perhaps most famous for – Joseph in the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

And now he’s about to make his big return to the show, albeit passing on the technicolour dreamcoat this time around to play the Pharaoh in the multi award-winning musical beloved by theatregoers old and young.

But Jason could not be more pleased with the actor who takes on his Joseph mantle – Jac Yarrow – and we caught up with the duo in Manchester this week ahead of the new tour of the show launching here at the Opera House from March 23.

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Jason beams: “Jac smashes this like you’ve never seen before, it’s a role bigger than mount Everest, this is a mountain that no one can climb. I tried, but I haven’t come as close as Jac has seriously.”

Aussie heart-throb Jason says he can’t wait to finally get the show on the road, after the coronavirus pandemic curtailed the initial planned run after winning rave reviews with this rebooted Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat production at the London Palladium in July 2021.

Jason Donovan becomes Pharaoh in the new Joseph production, alongside Jac Yarrow as Joseph

Manchester is the first date for the tour, and for Jac it’s the first time in the city.

Jac says: “This was my first job out of drama school and I’ve had a whole three years with this show now, but Manchester will be my first performance outside of London. It’s amazing to come back to the role and it feels like a celebration of this show.”

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The actor admits it was “intimidating” at first to perform in front of Jason – who famously took on the role of Joseph in 1990 after taking the musical’s song Any Dream Will Do to the top of the music charts.

Jac says: “To be honest, to start with it was intimidating performing on front of him, but he’s the first person to give you a pat on the back and he’s such a joker.” Jason jumps in to joke: “We get on so well we even have bunk beds together!”

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They are joined in the show by X Factor winner Alexandra Burke as the narrator, fresh from the lovely news that she’s expecting a baby later this year.

Will dad-of-three Jason be passing on any parenthood tips to Alexandra, I ask? He laughs: “Probably just grab onto the rope and hope for the best.

“You hope that you can educate your kids to make the right choices in life, and for me being a dad is pretty much everything – except when they tell me the truth.

“My daughter Molly, when I was on my recent tour, she’s only 11 so I asked if she wanted to see dad perform live. She looked at me and said “dad, I’m not a fan”, she really did. It’s the truth, it’s brutal but you get used to it.”

Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

Joseph, based on the bible story, and known for those huge musical hits like Close Every Door to Me, Any Dream Will Do and Go, Go, Go Joseph will play here for two weeks, so what do Jason and Jac think is the enduring success of this musical?

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Jason says: “It’s a very simple show, it’s very relatable, even more so now it’s more poignant, it’s about overcoming adversity, about dreams, the person you are versus the things people want you to be. It’s a little bit of magic, to all of us, particularly in this country it’s in our DNA.”

Jac adds: “People know the music of this show so well, it’s the soundtrack to a lot of people’s lives, even if you think you don’t know the songs you do – it takes you back to your childhood days, it’s something people really do love.”

Jac Yarrow and Jason Donovan were in Manchester this week ahead of launching Joseph

As for what the pals will be getting up to while they’re based here in the city, Jac says: “I’m excited to get to know the city, I’ve heard there’s an I’m a Celebrity jungle experience, so maybe I’ll get some tips from J-Do and head over there.”

While Jason says: “Manchester has changed a lot over the years and I love it, there’s great food, I love the big M&S, but I have my routines that revolves around lots of walks and keeping focused.”

Joseph plays at Manchester Opera House from March 23 – April 2, for tickets see atgtickets.com

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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