'Amazing' Jason heads to Mansfield with his 'Midlife Crisis' tour.

Jason Donovan will be bringing his one-man show to Mansfield next month.
Jason Donovan will be bringing his one-man show to Mansfield next month.

I'm the same age as Jason Donovan, I discover as we chat about his latest theatre tour - both recently turning 50.

I didn't realise, but I suppose it makes sense.

I remember, as a teenager, watching him first emerge in Neighbours, his arrival as a pop star in the late 1980s and his triumphant entry onto the West End stage with his celebrated and long-running turn as Joseph.

The drug problems, splitting with Kylie, disappearing for a good while, then fighting back and re-emerging as a reality TV star and a return to mainstream telly work. Echo Beach. Anyone remember that?

When I turned 50 in February, it was preceded by a few months of existential angst, a few wild days of partying around the big day, followed by a feeling that nothing had really changed.

And Donovan seems to have taken it all in his stride.

"I'm not getting too worked up about it," he says, in his still-obvious Ozzie accent. "I have a great family and I'm moving forward.

"It's not perfect. I still have my anxieties and fears - you have to manage yourself through this life, but I'm up for the future."

And there's no sign that the former child actor is slowing down - heading to Mansfield's Palace Theatre next month with his autobiographical show, 'Jason and his Amazing Midlife Crisis'.

The show examines every aspect of Donovan’s life - warts and all - from where he began to where he is today, he says.

And while to us, his rise may seem meteoric, Donovan says it was more of a 'slow burner'.

"For me, Neighbours was a massive moment but at first it was a bit of a slow burner," he says.

"Then it started to get recognition in Australia - then suddenly the attention Kylie and myself were getting was massive - all of a sudden we would step onto a stage and there would be all these people going nuts.

"But what really changed things - when I really knew it had taken off - was my music career.

"Music is a sort of magic - when you're performing songs to an audience, you just don't get that sort of connection and adoration as an actor."

Donovan was born in Victoria in 1968 and was brought up by his father - British-born veteran actor Terence Donovan, who also appeared with his son in Neighbours.

He made his acting debut, aged 11, in a television show called Skyways, with Kylie Minogue playing his sister. More television work followed and he joined the cast of Neighbours in 1986 - playing Scott Robinson - leaving the show in 1989 to pursue his already growing music career in the UK.

A raft of hits followed from the Stock, Aitken and Waterman stable, with Donovan's third single, 'Too Many Broken Hearts', and his debut album both topping the charts.

Then, in 1991, he accepted the title role in 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat' at the London Palladium, and reached Number 1 for the third time with his version of "Any Dream Will Do".

But by this time, Donovan was already crashing - frustrated at being pigeonholed as a teen heart throb and family entertainer - he once described cycling through London at the height of his fame, past his adoring fans spilling out of the doors of the Palladium, and home to his flat where he would lie, smoking weed, into the small hours.

In 1992 there was the ill-fated court case against The Face magazine, which had alleged in an article that Donovan was gay. He was awarded £200,000 in damages and the magazine had to pay a further £100,000 in costs, but the lawsuit created a backlash, with people accusing him of being homophobic.

Then came perhaps the lowest moment - passing out on Jack Nicholson during a cocaine-fuelled binge at Johnny Depp and Kate Moss's party in 1995 at the Viper Rooms in Los Angeles, where actor River Phoenix had collapsed and died a year earlier.

"I had worked my butt off and it was a bubble that had to burst," he says. "But I got through it and I know what I don't want to do with my life now."

Donovan slowly began to turn things around, appearing in a World War Two drama later that year back in Australia, before relaunching his stage career in 1998 with a production of The Rocky horror Show, where he met his now-wife Angela. The couple now have three children.

He later re-emerged as a reality TV star, coming third in the 2006 season of I'm a Celebrity, and competing in Strictly Come Dancing in 2011. The shows re-raised Donovan's profile and led to renewed success as an actor and singer.

"I don't think there was an epiphany moment," he says. "It was more of a progression."

"I'm lucky that my back catalogue allows me to connect to people emotionally. I'm not Take That doing Wembley, but I've earned my place at the table and I'm still doing it.

"I've fallen on my face a few times but people seem to like and respect me. And it's not just the ladies. I hope people just see me as a good guy.

Jason with Kylie Minogue in Neighbours.

Jason with Kylie Minogue in Neighbours.

"In the future, I want to keep healthy and I want to keep fit and I want to be surrounded by my family, and maybe relax a little more, and just keep living a full life."

*Jason and his Amazing Midlife Crisis will be on at Mansfield Palace Theatre on Tuesday, May 7.

* Other dates are:

Friday, 26 April 2019 - Newbury Corn Exchange

The 50-year-old says he still loves performing.

The 50-year-old says he still loves performing.

Monday, 29 April 2019 - The Forum Billingham

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 - Burnley Mechanics

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 - Settle Victoria Hall

Thursday, 2 May 2019 - Stamford Corn Exchange

Friday, 3 May 2019 - Cottingham Civic Hall

Saturday, 4 May 2019 - Barnsley Civic Hall

Wednesday, 8 May 2019 - Bromsgrove Artrix

Thursday, 9 May 2019 - Frome Cheese & Grain

Friday, 10 May 2019 - Bridport Electric Palace

Saturday, 11 May 2019 - Bognor Regis Regis Centre

Monday, 13 May 2019 - Radlett Radlett Centre

Tuesday, 14 May 2019 - Market Drayton Festival Centre

Wednesday, 15 May 2019 - Market Drayton Festival Centre

Thursday, 16 May 2019 - Bracknell South Hill Park