IT’S ABOUT survival. He’s hanging on in there. Continuing to show up. All blond hair and wide grin, eyes edged with irrespressible hopefulness. Once beleaguered, certainly self-destructive, he laughed in the face of convention and almost wrecked his career.

But he proved to be an escapologist and somehow regained ground he feared he’d lost for good.

Yes, Jason Donovan has been through some difficult times in his 42-year showbiz career. But he’s shown that talent and persistence can win out in the end.

Now, the Aussie former child star, who went on to star in TV soap Neighbours and became a pop/personal double act with little Kylie is back in Joseph.

But not, of course, playing the titular lead. That would be stretching the laws of theatre almost as far as Partygate stretched the laws of the land and probity. This time around the man from Melbourne is playing Pharaoh. And doesn’t he deserve to be there.

Since he cleaned up his act and fronted the re-launch of Joseph back in 1991, Donavan has proved to be the consummate stage performer, as stints in Priscilla, Chitty and Rocky Horror have confirmed.

But what of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat today? How can this show have survived almost 50 years? How many times can we hear Any Dream Will Do, until the day comes that we stop ourselves from singing the opening line? Why can’t we close our eyes to the high campery, the costumes that even Elton may have felt were too much?

Well, that’s easy. Michael Harrison’s production of the show, which began life as a small-scale school’s production in 1968, has been cleverly updated. It’s now starring Jac Yarrow, who looks like a boyband frontman; he’s already been Olivier nominated for the role.

But the updated set and fast-paced direction breathe new life into the production. And the songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, including Close Every Door, There’s One More Angel in Heaven and Go, Go, Go Joseph, are timeless.

As for the storyline, it’s certainly not Strindberg, told entirely through song, which doesn’t present too many demands on the concentrative powers of a younger audience.

It tells of Jacob’s favourite son Joseph and his 11 brothers whom, we learn, are backstabbing ratbags and they sell the No One into slavery. Joseph finds a friend in Egyptian noble Potiphar. However, when Potiphar’s wife takes a fancy to this fresh-faced young hunk, Joseph ends up in jail.

It all looks grim until he reinvents himself as a dream interpreter, and the ultimate survivor somehow connects with the Pharaoh and strives to solve the famine crises in the country.

Nothing lasts for ever, of course, as Rod Stewart’s larynx revealed last Saturday. But there’s little doubt Jason Donovan’s career will continue apace with adjustments in roles that are age appropriate. Perhaps one of these days he and Kylie will appear in a Neil Simon comedy. He certainly has the talent and charisma, and the experience to realise he’s been lucky to have been given a second chance to take off to ancient Egypt. Unlike our political escapologist Johnson. He and Nadine are surely set for a long trip into the desert.

Joseph, King’s Theatre, 14 June-25 June; Her Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 28 June-2 July and Edinburgh Playhouse, 25 Oct-29 Oct.

Don’t forget to see: The Francie and Josie Sketchbook once again sees the irrepressible Johnny Mac and Liam Dolan don the blue and orange teddy suits to play the characters which made Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy stars. The Pavilion Theatre, tonight and tomorrow.

IT WOULDN’T be fair to label Elaine C. Smith a survivor. The word suggests her career has been in jeopardy at one point

But that hasn’t been the case. Since she arrived in the comedy firmament back in the mid-1980s, Smith has battered down every single performance door in front of her, excelling in radio and television with Naked Radio, going on to wow the nation as Mary Doll in Rab C. Nesbitt. Her stage career has gone from strength to strength, in productions such as Dario Fo’s Trumpets and Raspberries, appearing as Susan Boyle in musical I Dreamed a Dream in 2012.

Right now, she’s enjoying TV success yet again in the BBC sitcom Two Doors Down. Yet, Smith hasn’t always captured the credit she deserves for her stand-up comedy work. Those who have yet to see the Lanarkshire performer unleashed have the chance at the Clyde Comedy Festival, at the Beacon Arts Centre, in Greenock, as part of the Meliora Festival.

Smith, we are informed, ‘presents a hilarious night of conversation, intelligent stand-up, storytelling and music alongside special guests, award-winning Scottish novelist Andrew O’ Hagan, author of Scottish Book of the Year Mayflies, and comedian and panto star Johnny Mac.’

The festival weekend will see Scottish Opera performances, aerial dance and circus skills workshops, as well as street theatre, and music from local bands including The Laurettes. There will also be magic shows, food and drink stalls. All that, and the force of nature that is Elaine C. Smith.

The Meliora Festival, Inverclyde, runs from June 17-19. Elaine C. Smith will appear on June 18.

All that, and the force of nature that is Elaine C. Smith.

The Meliora Festival runs from June 17-19. Elaine C. Smith will appear on June 18.

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