DJ:Intro... Radio DJ speaking in Dutch initially, then changes to English.
Mr. Jason Donovan, welcome!
Jason:Good evening, good morning! Good morning, how are you today?
DJ:Okay. Now on November 26th you will play here in the Lotto arena, with Jeff Wayne's musical version 'The War of The Worlds'. Can you tell us more about that project?
Jason:Well the project is very exciting. For those people who don't know about 'The War of The Worlds' , and I would imagine there is not too many. It is based on, obviously, the H.G. Wells novel; and of course, who will explain it himself, composed music to go alongside that piece of literature. I have been cast within that, as 'The Artillery Man' ; and The Artillery Man is a sort of innocent dreamer, who has a sort of wild ambitions to over-throw this Martian invasion. I am very excited about the project. It enables me to capitalize on all my talents, which is acting and singing and hopefully not tripping over on stage! But the most exciting thing is working with Jeff,â€¦ and working with a large orchestra and such a wonderful piece of music. I think that is why I am generally nervous. But excited. A bit like you! (Laughter.)
DJ:Now Jeff, what makes 'War of The Worlds' such a great story?
Jeff: Well for me when I first read it, it combined the science, that H.G. Wells really was comfortable with, plus his vision of science fiction and fantasy. So it combined - you had this amazing story, set in Victorian England, that from a composing and producing point of view really excited me; of trying to interpret his work and I found it pretty easy in the sense that it was so exciting to delve into his writing, that I found music flowing from my point of view as a composer.
DJ:'War of The Worlds' was initially a book, many years ago; I think a hundred years ago it was written?
Jeff: It came out first as an episodic adventure in a magazine, called 'Pearson's' and it was so popular that the publisher asked them to put it all together as a book and that came out in 1898 and it has never been out of publication. It has been a continual, popular work.
DJ:Now Jason, did you ever read that book?
Jason:I started to read it when I knew I was going to have a meeting with Jeff and one thing led to another and I found myself engrossed in actually learning the piece music. I think it is quite relevant, the literature piece to its time. But I think what Jeff's music has done is really sort of make it accessible,- to not just literature audience, but a wider audience. To that extent, as Jeff has said on many occasions, it is a family event. It appeals to Mums, Dads and kids and a wide range of people.
DJ:Now the musical version started I think in 1978?
Jeff: That is when the album was first released yes, in 1978, yes?
DJ:That was done with Richard Burton in the play?
Jeff: He is the one character that travels all the way through the story. He plays the role of a journalist, and he has survived the Martian invasion. So six years later he is recounting is story of survival for his newspaper and he meets these incredible characters along the way.
Jason being 'The Artillery Man' is one of the characters he meets and they travel together and later they get separated. And then later on, in the story they meet up again by pure chance. And in the show we have brought Richard back to life as an eleven foot high, motion capture three dimensional hologram; and when you see it in a live venue it is very hypnotic, very compelling!
DJ:Now Jason you are obvious big star of this production, but who are other key players?
Jason:Well we've got Liz McClarnon, Justin Hayward, we've got Rhydian, â€¦.. a young man who has been involved in a TV show in the UK, and of course there is some guy called Jeff Wayne, I don't know how he fits into the whole production!
Jeff: I am still trying to figure that one out myself!
Jason:He is obviously conducting the whole piece. But it really is a team, sort of, there is not one particular person that plays a bigger part than anyone else.
It really feels like a family and a team and to that extent entertainment. You know, big entertainment, spectacular!
DJ:Now I saw some pictures of the show and it is a really big production. Why so big and spectacular?
Jeff: Well in all these years there have been opportunities for me to conduct and take out concert renditions of 'The War of The Worlds'. But all the time, in my mind, because of the nature of the story, it is such a visual piece, the way I always hoped to present it, was what we are doing and have been doing for four years now since we started touring - is to present it in major arenas that give us a size and space that allows us to use a combination of a range of cutting edge technologies, such as the holographic of Richard Burton. But there are a range of other huge things. But combine it in synchronization with live performance, so you get true live performance of musicians and the artists playing the roles, set against all this huge scale technology, which combined, gives the audience quite a unique evening's experience; and it even involves the audience at times!
Jason:It is cinematic.
Jeff: Yes it is a big canvas.
DJ:Jason is it the biggest show you ever did?
Jason:Yes it 'feels' like the biggest show that I am yet to do. And I have worked with orchestras before. But I don't think I have quite worked with such a large production as this. For me, it is the first time I have been in Europe as a professional for many many years. So that is exciting as well.
DJ:Because for the last eighteen months I think you played on West End in 'Priscilla'?
Jason:Totally opposite character to 'The Artillery Man'. The character has a lot more hair! A lot more hair! (Laughter.)
DJ:Eighteen months is quite a while!
Jason:Yes funnily enough I have aged about three or four years in that eighteen months. But it was a great experience 'Priscilla'; very different to this, but not dissimilar in production values. Jeff's production, is a testament to his desire to want to make a great piece, a great night out. I am always trying to, with my live work, get involved with projects that ; A, excite me and B, that my audience, which I hope will come to this as well. Will say that is something special, that is why Jason wanted to do that project. Priscilla' was great, but eight shows a week for eighteen months is hard work!
DJ:Now in a few months, I hear that you can release a new album as well?
Jason:Yes, it is on Universal, it is an eighties style record, cover versions of songs from the eighties that I really wanted to cover. I think the eighties has been slightly tarnished with shoulder pads, mullet hair cuts and you know, new romanticism! But there are some great tunes in that period and I have picked out a few that I really wanted to do. So that is exciting, it is really exciting.
DJ:Now you are today in Antwerp, is it just to do some interviews, or also a little bit of sight seeing?
Jason:We haven't done a lot of sight seeing, Jeff and I. Jeff has just been keeping awake as we drive through towns! (Laughter...)
Jeff: I was falling asleep in the car and I woke up twice to give him a spell check on two words. What we have seen going between Antwerp and Brussels is quite a difference is Architecture and the way two cities function. It has been fascinating. I have been here before to both cities. But I think this trip I have noticed it more because it was during the day as well and the weather was nice so you get to see a lot more and we had a fantastic lunch yesterday.
Jason:A great lunch! Yeah, I don't know where we were but it was outdoors.
Jeff: Just outside of Brussels, it was a fantastic setting. Yes it was a fantastic lunch and we took it all in.
DJ:Now Jason and Jeff I wish you all the best with 'The War of The Worlds', November 26th here in Antwerp.
Jason:Thank you so much.
Jeff: Thank you.
End of Interview.
The transcript is shared by Noreen Moore, a TWOTW fan, to help those who have difficulty listening to Jeff's radio interviews.