THERE IS one sure fire way to make women of a certain age turn pea green with envy - tell them you are waiting for 80s heart-throb Jason Donovan to phone you.
The Aussie singer and actor was the first love of many a Derry school girl back when he hit our screens as the perfect boy next door Scott Robinson in ‘Neighbours’.
How we all sobbed into our homework when his character married the love of his life Charlene Ramsey to the strains of Angry Anderson’s ‘Suddenly’.
When his musical career took off, Jason developed a legion of fans who - 25 years later - feel they have grown up alongside him. “It’s a great compliment,” he said, as I told him of the mild hysteria in the ‘Journal’ office at his call, “that people still know who I am and feel they have been alongside me on a journey. It’s great to know that I have made an impression in people’s lives. That’s the most any of us could hope to achieve.”
Now, as he plans to play the iconic role of Captain VonTrapp in the touring production of ‘The Sound of Music’ at the Millennium Forum, he said he is “more contented and composed than ever”.
Married with two children, Jemma and Zac, he and his wife are expecting their third child this March. “I’m happy. I’m healthy. I have two gorgeous kids and a lovely wife who loves me and after 25 years I’m still being booked. I couldn’t really ask for more.”
He admits the last 25 years have been a rollercoaster ride - with plenty of ups and downs. With his meteoric rise to fame in Neighbours to his subsequent pop success Jason became a household name in the late 80s. A hugely successful turn in the lead role of a revival of ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ followed but by the mid 90s his star was fading.
Cocaine addiction followed, before he met his wife, Ange, settled down and rebuilt his career almost from scratch. It has, he admits, “been a long road”.
“The problem with starting out where I did on such a high, is that to some extent you always feel you are chasing your past. I have to remind myself from time to time that I’m a very lucky person. I still have a career - with music, in the theatre, on TV. Everyone’s healthy. I have another baby on the way. Our kids are getting a good education and we are able to have nice holidays.
“Of course there are times when I wish for more - it would have been nice to five or six top ten songs on an album, or be in a Hollywood blockbuster but I have to put things in perspective. I have come a long way.
“My life has been a big journey - not all of it has been positive - but that’s what life is like. It has ups and downs.”
Landing the role of Captain Von Trapp is definitely one of his “ups” - although he admits the role has been more challenging than he anticipated.
“It certainly a different kind of role than I would normally play. I have tended to play the more innocent or naive characters in the past. Captain Von Trapp is more of an authoritarian. It’s a more rigid and strict role.
“Most people know ‘The Sound of Music’ and will be familiar with the songs - ‘The Hills are Alive’ or ‘Edelweiss’ but when you strip it back it is actually quite a complex piece. It surprised me to work through it layer by layer