Right royal role for Jason Donovan in Leeds

Jason Donovan, as Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue in The King's Speech. Raymond Coulthard plays King George VI. PIC: Hugo Glendinning
Jason Donovan, as Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue in The King's Speech. Raymond Coulthard plays King George VI. PIC: Hugo Glendinning
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Aussie showbiz favourite Jason Donovan will be returning to Leeds next month to tread the boards in The King’s Speech - the original play that inspired the Oscar-winning film.

The touring production arrives at Leeds Grand Theatre on May 26, with the ex-teen heartthrob playing the role of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue.

That week also coincides with half-term so the dad-of-three told the YEP it may turn into a family break up north to show his children the sights of Leeds. He said: “I like Leeds, it’s a good city. I’ve been many, many times. It’ll be half term so I’m probably spending most of my time with the kids if they come with me. There are good shops in Leeds. But I think I’ll be mainly busy with the show each night, trying to deliver a good performance.”

The King’s Speech tells the heartwarming story of King George VI - played by Raymond Coulthard (Hotel Babylon, Mr Selfridge) - and his battle to overcome a terrible stammer as he is thrust into the spotlight to lead his country. The play is a break from the norm for the actor who has more commonly been cast in musical productions.

“I’m sort of enjoying not having to do musical theatre.

“I’m very grateful for my musical experience but it’s nice to have a serious role that requires a little bit more depth.

“I’ve been enjoying it a lot. It’s a great story about friendship and fear and a really interesting piece of theatre.”

But he admits a gruelling schedule of eight shows a week means life on the road away from his London home can be hard at times.

“I have to say, a performer in my position is quite lucky - I get to do it well, I get looked after. But certainly it’s difficult when you have kids. It’s been a really enjoyable process but eight times a week is tough.

“When you have three children you have to go where the work is. That’s what I do. I don’t enjoy touring for long periods of time but I certainly value the experience - and the cash flow.”

The tour runs until June when the former pop sensation will turn to the other strings in his bow. He said: “I’ve got some gigs over the summer and my radio show [on Heart FM], which I enjoy doing a lot. But beyond that I don’t know - I’ve got a few things in the pipeline.”

The King’s Speech is at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday May 30.

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