Jason Donovan is without a doubt one of the most loved musical icons of the 1980s, but since then he has gone on to become much more than a pop star.
The Australian, who made a name for himself on the small screen in Neighbours, and of course as a singer with Stock, Aitken and Waterman, has since gone on to carve out a formidable reputation in the world of theatre, most recently performing in the Grand Opera House in Belfast with the stage version of the Oscar winning film ‘The Kings Speech’.
Now, Jason will be making a welcome return to Belfast with the smash hit production Million Dollar Quartet, which tells the story of the day that musical history was made when rock‘n’roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins came together for the first and only time.
On December 4 1956, these four star musicians gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever.
Million Dollar Quartet, written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits including Blue Suede Shoes, Fever, That’s All Right, Sixteen Tons, Great Balls of Fire, Walk the Line, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Who Do You Love?, Matchbox, Folsom Prison Blues, Hound Dog and many more.
Drawing on his vast array of experience in the music industry, Jason will be stepping into the shoes of legendary record producer Sam Phillips, who brought the four rock n roll icons together.
Sam Phillips was the founder of Sun Records in Memphis and is credited with developing rock ‘n’ roll.
Talking to The Guide, Jason said he believes that his experience in the music industry was one of the reasons he was cast in the prestigious role. “I mainly got cast in the part because I have experience in the music industry. Sam Phillips is a little bit like Pete Waterman or Simon Cowell,” he said.
Jason isn’t daunted by taking on the role of a musical icon and has been enjoying his latest foray into the world of musical theatre. “Acting is my spiritual home,” he continued. “It has been an interesting eight months. I am more nervous about trying to remember my lines and make it authentic.
“I am not trying to mould history but it is a fascinating part in a sense that America has been built by characters like Sam Phillips. It is a fascinating story of a man trying to balance being creative and being a businessman. He put his business and family on the line. You have to respect someone who has a vision. If you look at history, everyone speaks very highly about Sam Phillips.”
Million Dollar Quartet, which was a huge success in the West End, on Broadway and in Las Vegas, has been touring the UK, which Jason admits has been a gruelling schedule for the cast, and he is currently enjoying a well deserved holiday Down Under before returning to the stage in Belfast next month.
“I am looking forward to a holiday,” he laughed. “I love performing but eight times a week touring is really tough, I need a holiday but I can’t wait to get back to Belfast.”
Jason will be joined on stage by Ashley Carruthers as Jerry Lee Lewis, Matt Wycliffe and Carl Perkins, Robbie Durham as Johnny Cash, and Ross William Wild as Elvis Presley,
“People don’t quite know what this show is about,” he added. “But when they come and see it they love it.”
Million Dollar Quartet will be coming to the Grand Opera House in Belfast on Tuesday April 25 and runs until Saturday April 29 at 7.30pm each evening, There will also be matinee performances on Thursday April 27 and Saturday April 29 at 7.30pm.
Tickets, priced from £21.25, are on sale now from the Grand Opera House Box Office on 9024 1919 or online at www.goh.co.uk.