‘My first love was Jason Donovan - other men had a lot to live up to’
- Credit: Archant
Performer, choreographer and TV presenter Sarah Blanc reveals why she feels tricked by late Eighties pop stars into believing in true love.
They say you never forget your first love and this is especially true when it happens to be Australian pop heartthrob Jason Donovan.
Performer, choreographer and TV presenter Sarah Blanc was only five years old and growing up in Ireland when she knew Jason was the one. Among her Christmas presents in 1989 was a copy of his album Ten Good Reasons and she played it constantly.
The bronzed and blonde soapstar-turned-singer may have been blissfully unaware of what he meant to Sarah, but that didn’t matter, in her fantasy world nothing could divide them and when he sang Especially For You it was Sarah’s eyes he locked on, not Kylie Minogue’s.
“I used to play make believe with my dolls,” says Sarah. “I called the male doll Jason and he was my husband.”
Such innocent, idealised love informed Sarah’s childhood, but as a grown-up entering the dating world she found Jason was a hard act to follow.
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Sarah’s dating disasters and how they contrast with the sun-kissed Jason and his chart-friendly songs of true love inform her new show It Started With Jason Donovan, which comes to the Colchester Arts Centre on April 25.
Part comedy confessional, part theatre and part dance, the one-woman show – although Sarah does share the stage with a cardboard cut-out Jason – is an energetic and immersive experience which throws up questions about whether true love can really exist in the modern dating world.
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“I grew up with this ideal of what love is from the songs of Jason Donovan. In his songs he’s always in love with this one special person and it is magical.
“The men I had relationships with had a lot to live up to and, as the song goes, ‘there’s too many broken hearts in the world’. So true, Jason, so true.”
Sarah bashfully admits she has now found love, but it is her early “laugh a minute” dating adventures which are scrutinised on stage.
Looking on throughout as Sarah recalls the men who failed to fill his flip flops – is the cardboard cut-out of Jason, but what of the flesh and blood Mr Donovan? Has he responded to the show?
“A lot of Jason Donovan fans who have seen the show have been tweeting him about it, but so far he’s kept his distance,” says Sarah. “There is always at least one die-hard Jason mega fan that comes to the show and sings along to every song.”
Such audience participation is encouraged. Should you wish there will be the chance to air your own courting catastrophes and share any acts of revenge you carried out on misbehaving partners.
“There will be a few confessions and the audience are welcome to join in. I love to create a space where we all feel we are in the show together. It is not scary. I don’t pick on people.
“I usually find that I am not the only person who feel tricked by late Eighties pop stars into believing in true love.”
The inclusivity in her shows is mirrored in the wealth of projects and organisations Sarah, who trained at the London Contemporary Dance School, is involved in. She is one of the artists at the Candoco Dance Company, which works with disabled and non-disable dancers, co-leading and choreographing its youth company, Cando2. There are also plans to work with Jennie Draper, an interpreter for dance shows, on a version of It Started With Jason Donovan with signing for the hard of hearing.
Sarah is passionate about dance and theatre, but is keen to create work that makes it more accessible to those intimidated by the art forms.
Her work with all-female dance troupe Moxie Brawl and as a presenter on Art Streaming TV or Inside Dance TV, which she co-founded, is aimed to be, she says, “more accessible to people who may not usually want to go to theatre or dance events”.
It Started With Jason and Donovan will offer plenty of, often very funny, dance and theatre and intends to be accessible to all, while at the same time of course, being especially for you.
It comes to the Church Street venue on Wednesday, April 25. Pay what you can afford.
Doors open 7.30pm and the show starts at 8pm.
For more information on Sarah’s work, visit here