Tag Archives: Jason Donovan

REVIEW: Million Dollar Quartet – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

million dollar quartet review glasgow king's theatre

This review was written for and published by The Reviews Hub here.

Writers: Colin Escott & Floyd Mutrux

Director: Ian Talbot

Documenting the now-legendary, one-and-only coming together of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, at the Sun Record Studios in Memphis on December 4, 1956, Million Dollar Quartet is a scintillating, celebratory tale from the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll.

Under the avuncular, or in some eyes, Svengali-like influence of record label owner Sam Phillips, dubbed “the father of rock ‘n’ roll”, the four musicians converge in the studio. Despite the kinship and camaraderie tensions abound: Elvis is already a star; Perkins is in want of his next big hit and can barely contain his anger at Presley’s appropriation of Blue Suede Shoes; Cash is wrestling with dissatisfaction at not being able to record the songs he wants and his own deep-seated Christian values and the devilish Lewis is teetering on the cusp of global stardom. Phillips is keen to re-sign Cash, Cash is fearful of telling Phillips he’s already jumped ship to rival record company Columbia and Phillips is barely keeping his head above water, thinking that “we’ve taken this guitar thing as far as it can go” and having had to “sell” Elvis to RCA to keep his label afloat.

What makes this such an irresistible gem (apart from the knock-out soundtrack) is its cast, who are universally excellent. A stalwart of musical theatre, Jason Donovan (Sam Phillips) is actually at his best in pure acting roles, Phillips fits him like a glove and his measured delivery as the narrator of this tale, is the perfect counterpoint to the frenetic energy of these musical giants. But oh boy, the Quartet themselves, Matthew Wycliffe is a gifted guitar player and his era-evocative voice captures the smouldering Perkins to a tee, Ross William Wild has a lot to live up to as Presley and shines in the slower numbers, in particular Peace in the Valley and Robbie Durham manages to captures Cash’s idiosyncratic bass-baritone voice beautifully – I Walk the Line and Sixteen Tons are a treat. But it is Million Dollar Quartet veteran Martin Kaye who truly impresses, having played on the US tour and Las Vegas production for five years, Kaye has the lion’s share of the best lines and his piano playing is truly astounding.

If any criticism is to be made it’s the paper-thin characterisation of Phillips but the utterly glorious music more than makes up for any faults. The high-octane raw energy and sheer joy with which the Quartet delivers each number is salve for the soul.

Unlike many, Phillip’s can truly claim “I made them boys” and oh what boys! Million Dollar Quartet is glorious, pure unadulterated, no-frills, high-talent entertainment at its best.

Runs until Saturday 19 November 2016 | Image: Darren Bell

REVIEW: The King’s Speech – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

From soap superstar, 80’s pop prince, through some wilderness years, to a reinvention as a star of the musical theatre scene, Jason Donovan now emerges as serious actor in David Seidler’s original stage version of The King’s Speech.

Playing Lionel Logue, the failed actor and untrained speech therapist tasked with curing the future George VI’s stammer, Donovan delivers a masterful performance of surprising depth, strength and warmth. No respecter of royal protocol Logue, torments, tortures and teases ‘Bertie’ into finding his voice.

Raymond Coulthard as Bertie: stiff, emotionally cold, quick of temper, unloved and over-looked and heartbreakingly vulnerable, is in perfect contrast to Donovan’s ‘Aussie bloke’, Logue. The bond of friendship that develops between the two men is beautifully wrought and the chemistry between the two actors a joy to watch, praise must also go to Coulthard for his portrayal of the future King’s stammer, which is sensitively and realistically conveyed.

What the play does that the big screen version does not, is provide a more expansive political background on which to set the action: detailing the behind the scenes tug of war for power between Winston Churchill and the Archbishop of Canterbury as to who pulls the strings of the “dim” second son; how they will get rid of the “empress of the night” Wallace Simpson and highlighting the fascist leaning tendencies of Edward VIII, which loom somewhat larger on stage than they did on screen. It adds more weight to the seriousness of the situation and how close the monarchy actually came to crumbling.

Played out on Tom Piper’s slickly functional, wood panelled set, which cleverly and atmospherically  transforms from royal palace, to Harley Street treatment room, to Westminster Abbey to radio station, this is a masterfully written, emotive piece of theatre which also doubles as the most beautifully told history lesson you could ever wish for.

Perfectly pitched and played, this is as impeccable a piece of theatre as you are likely to find on any stage around the UK at the moment – pure class.

Runs until Saturday 21 March 2015 then touring

This article was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-kings-speech-theatre-royal-glasgow/

REVIEW: Priscilla Queen of the Desert – Edinburgh Playhouse


Adapted from Stephan Elliott’s 1994 film, the musical tells the story of two drag queens and a transsexual, who get together to honour a booking for a show in Alice Springs. As they head from Sydney aboard their bus, Priscilla, the three friends meet some strange characters, encounter homophobia and eventually find happiness in the most unexpected places.

The Priscilla bus rolls in to Edinburgh still chock full of feather boas and sequins but in a somewhat scaled down version from its West End original. That said, the spirit of the glorious original is alive and well in this uplifting production.


The talented cast are ably led by Richard Grieve (Bernadette), Jason Donovan (Tick/Mitzi) and Graham Weaver (Adam/Felicia), keeping the energy levels up and the camp spectacular alive throughout. The familiar disco numbers are belted out with gusto and the outrageous costumes are an eye-popping delight.


Production photos copyright Paul Coltas

This is a show to lift the spirits and send you into the street with a spring in your step and your faith in humanity restored. A joyous, celebratory evening at the theatre.

photo (2)

My souvenirs – if you know the show you’ll know where these were fired from!!!

The bus rolls into the King’s Theatre Glasgow in June – ticket details here