Meet Linzi, Jason and Jac
Go, go, go Joseph, you know what they say… in their own words we hear from Linzi Hateley (Narrator), Jason Donovan (Pharaoh), and Jac Yarrow (Joseph) ahead of the beloved family musical brightening up the Leeds Grand stage.
Written by Kelly Scotney
You first played The Narrator in 1991, then at the London Palladium last year, and now on tour. What do you most enjoy about playing her and what keeps bringing you back?
“I never dreamt that all these years later that I’d be back. It’s a very different production to the one we did in the early 90s and when I saw it on opening night in 2019 I thought it was brilliant how they’d reinvented it and given it a new lease of life. Then when the call came in last summer saying Alexandra Burke wasn’t available for certain performances and how would I feel about doing those dates, to be honest I had to sit down for a second and think ‘Can I really do this 30 years later?’ But because it was a very different version I thought ‘You know what, let’s just give it a go’. It was quite overwhelming because I never dreamt the response would be so wonderful.”
Have you and Jason been reminiscing about the old days?
“We did at first but the thing we both bring to the show now is a lot of life experience. The wonderful thing for me is that my daughter, who is going to be 23 soon, used to say ‘The one show I wanted to see you do Mum was Joseph’ and she was there at the Palladium last summer cheering along with everyone else. But yes, Jason and I have reminisced about that first time round and we’re grateful to be having another crack at sharing the stage together, first in London and now on tour.”
The show is a school favourite. Were you in any school productions of it yourself?
“You know what, I wasn’t asked to do one school production. I was a terrible reader as a child, and I still am, and it always seemed as though they picked the kids who could read the scripts really quickly. So I never did a single school production of anything.”
The score is full of great songs. Do you have a favourite to perform?
“I really enjoy the Potiphar scene. As the Narrator there are so many other bits that are more vocally exciting but I love the acting side of things and it’s a moment in the show that I think is hysterically funny.
This is your third go-round as Pharaoh. What keeps pulling you back in?
“There’s so much history with Joseph for me and I was originally asked about recreating the role of Joseph himself. That didn’t come to fruition for a number of reasons and trying to recreate what I’d done in 1991 all these years later with me in my 50s was a bit of a non-starter anyway. But I was keen to be part of it and when the opportunity to play Pharaoh came along I took it without thinking too much about it. The song comes in Act Two and it’s a bit of a show-stealer. Because of my association with the show I think it only increases the value of that moment and makes it more powerful.”
You’ve done lots of musical theatre since the 90s. What have been your favourites?
“The musical that was a magical moment for me was Priscilla Queen of the Desert [in 2009]. It was such an incredible production and they spent so much money on the bus, the set and the costumes. There have been certain times in my career where I’ve looked around and gone ‘Wow! I’m in a different league here! This is as good as it’s gonna get’. The Rocky Horror Show was another good one. There have been some dodgy ones too but [laughs] we won’t talk about those.”
Looking back on your early pop career, what were your highlights from that time?
“It was a dream come true for me to have a number one single in this country, the year’s biggest selling album and to be meeting people I’d looked up to. I think you create your own luck in life but I was in a TV series that was massively successful so luck is one thing but timing is also really important. With the success of Neighbours I was looking towards other things and I was watching what Kylie was doing… and I said ‘I’d like a bit of that’. Then Stock Aitken Waterman came along and off it went. I think once people hear a song that’s sort of the soundtrack to them growing up – like Too Many Broken Hearts, Especially for You and Any Dream Will Do, which are my three biggest hits – it becomes part of their lives. Those songs to this day are keeping me alive and ultimately I think that’s why singers want pop hits because they never leave you.”
Did you ever imagine you’d become a national treasure in the UK?
“No because in Australia America is a bigger part of our entertainment sphere. Coming to Britain was never part of the plan as such but it quickly became the plan. The opportunity was enormous here and I took it.”
You first played the title role in 2019. How did that change your life?
“It completely changed my life. I was still at drama school when I got the part and it was literally over the course of two or three days that I went from getting the role to it being announced. I went from being a student living in digs dreaming of being in the West End to suddenly living that dream for real.
Jason Donovan played Joseph in 1991. How is it following in his footsteps?
“It’s great. From day one Jason has been the most supportive person. I was terrified when I had to sing Close Every Door in front of him at rehearsal but he’s been amazing. He was the first person to throw his arms around me, congratulate me and give me the boost that I needed early on. Now we have such a laugh. He’s such a fun guy and he’s another reason why I wanted to go on tour with the show, because who better to do that with than Jason Donovan?”
Joseph has been going strong since the early 70s. Why do you think audiences still love it?
“I think it’s just timeless and, as Jason always says, it’s a very simple story. What you see is what you get and what you get is a really good time. It’s a wholesome tale about a boy overcoming adversity and it encourages you to follow your dreams. The message is so uplifting and it’s one of those shows that continues from generation to generation. We get people at the stage door saying to Jason ‘You were my Joseph when I was a kid’ and then I meet kids at the stage door and their mums say ‘This is their first time seeing it’ so I’m their Joseph. And it’s such a famous show that it’s kind of ingrained in everybody. It’s a huge part of our theatrical culture in the UK.”
Do you hit the gym to make sure you look good in the shirtless scenes?
“Doing eight shows a week where I’m constantly running around keeps me in pretty good shape but I go to the gym, I eat well and I drink a lot of water – but that’s the stuff you have to do anyway when you’re doing such a full-on show as this.”
What are you most looking forward to about taking Joseph out on tour?
Linzi: “The anticipation of going on tour is always a bit scary because you’re leaving your home comforts, your husband, the dog and all the rest of it. But this is a lovely tour to be on because the cast are great and there’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing an audience who really appreciate it.”
Jason: “Joseph is my first time touring in a theatrical sense in a long time and I think it’s great the show is getting out there because it’s such a fantastic production.
Jac: “It’s my first tour ever. I’ve never toured before and I’m really looking forward to it because I haven’t visited that many towns and cities in the UK and Ireland. It will be amazing to see all these new places, get to know them better and sink my teeth into the role even more.”
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tue 12 July to Sat 23 July 2022, click here to book tickets.