Thirty years after she became one of the youngest nominees of an Olivier Award, Linzi Hateley can’t quite believe she is back in the same production, in the same role and once again starring alongside Jason Donovan.
The actress was 21 when she played The Narrator in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, receiving a nomination for best actress in a musical. On her return to the role, Hateley’s 23-year-old daughter, Meg, was in the audience watching, making it a proud moment for the family.
Hateley and Donovan – who this time is playing Pharoah – returned to Joseph at the London Palladium last year, the same venue they sold out over and over when the Neighbours star made the transition from pop idol to musical theatre actor three decades earlier.
“It was an extremely emotional and surreal experience – you never think you’ll go back 30 years later to the same theatre with Jason,” she smiled. “It was such a big part of my life when I was young and I never in a million years dreamed I’d be doing the show again. There are very few parts you could go back to after so many years because the reality is you get older and you’re not going to look or sound the same but playing The Narrator, it’s different people’s takes on how you tell a story and this is a very different version from the one I did before. Sheridan Smith did it a few years back and it was made as a star vehicle for her.
“With my voice still going strong, it allowed me to be able to do it but it does feel like a very new interpretation – it’s the 50-year-old me compared to the 20-year-old me.”
Having her daughter in the stalls at the Palladium last year was also a special moment.
“The one show she always said she wished she’d seen me do is Joseph, so to have her, and my parents who are still alive and were there on opening night again all these years later, meant a huge amount to me.
“With life experience, I value things more than I did, so I’m grateful and I’m going to try to enjoy it while I have the health and energy to do so.”
Hateley, whose first starring role was in Carrie The Musical when she was just 17, looks back fondly at the enormity of the 1990s version of Joseph.
“Jason was such a massive star and he brought people to the theatre that might not usually go to see a musical – it was the start of bringing in a star to get new audiences and the response was off the charts. We recorded the album and it went platinum in a week.
“It was surreal but I’ve always had an old head on my shoulders, so I did appreciate it and realised this didn’t come along too often.
“Jason and I have kept in touch over the years and to be back together in this particular production means so much to us. To suddenly be back in this show that was so important to both of us at the beginning of our careers feels very special and we’ve reverted to being kids again – we’re having a ball.”
Hateley has spent the majority of her career in the West End, which worked out better for her as a working mum, and as a result has only ever toured in the UK three times. She is looking forward to performing with Donovan, who sits out the Aberdeen dates, in Glasgow but says the nerves before a show are worse now than they have ever been.
“The older I get, the more nervous I become,” she said. “It was very scary to come back after the pandemic, because it’s a hard slog to be involved in eight shows a week. When you stop, you question how your body and voice will react, but I’m trying to be as careful and disciplined as I can.
“When you have a standard you want to maintain and the body isn’t getting any younger, it’s harder, especially when you’re a perfectionist and want to be as good as you can be.”