Interview with Michael Ball
PUBLISHED: 12:50 05 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:16 20 February 2013
Michael Ball, Britain's leading musical theatre star, multi-platinum recording artist, TV and radio presenter as well as Olivier Award winner celebrates 25 years in music and theatre this year...
Michael Ball, Britain's leading musical theatre star, multi-platinum recording artist, TV and radio presenter as well as Olivier Award winner celebrates 25 years in music and theatre this year. He spoke to Michael Palmer
Do you have pre-show rituals?
It partly depends where I am - if I'm in a favourite concert venue, like the Brighton Centre, I'll be familiar with the layout of the place so I don't have to think twice about turning left or right out of the dressing room! So, after soundcheck, I might grab a bowl of healthy pasta then go for a walk on the beach on my own to get some fresh air. Then it's back to the theatre, change into a smart suit, and then about half an hour before showtime, I drop into one of the backstage rooms which has been set aside for meeting ticket holders and fans. I do this before every show on tour - I think it's important to keep in contact with your fans, the people who put you there in the first place. I love meeting new fans, seeing familiar faces and catching up with old friends. I do that for about 15 minutes, chatting and signing autographs then it's showtime!
What's the most memorable show you've performed, and why?
I've loved every show I've been in but I think I'd have to say that the 21 months I spent performing as the fabulous Edna Turnblad in Hairspray had to be the happiest of my entire life. I had such a great time at every one of the 600 performances - it was such a great cast - I had three fabulous 'husbands' (Mel Smith, Ian Talbot, Nigel Planer) and we had a laugh every night. Of course the story is fantastic, the songs are generally showstoppers, the costumes and wigs are outrageous and the choreography fantastic. It's such an energetic show and I learned a lot from it - I'm really looking forward to touring in Hairspray next year - I just couldn't say goodbye just yet to the gorgeous Edna.
What's your favourite song to perform, and why?
Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar. First of all it's an incredibly powerful, huge song (written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice) and I find it absolutely thrilling to sing. It's especially significant for me because when I was about 12 I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar at the Cambridge Theatre and was absolutely enthralled by it - it was such a momentous experience that I decided then and there that I wanted to be involved in musical theatre...which is exactly what happened! Years later I made my West End stage debut at the very same theatre as Marius in Les Miserables.
After 25 years in the music industry, is there anything you still have ambitions to do?
Definitely - I've got tons of ideas! I've just taken on the position of Associate Producer with Stage Entertainment, the producers of Hairspray and, as well as touring with the show next year, I'll be involved in discussing new ideas for shows as well. It's a really exciting, challenging new direction for me; I'll always be a performer of course, that's my first love, but I think combining the two will be fantastic.
Who, from past or present, would you most like to share a stage with, and why?
I once had the pleasure of having the late, great Dusty Springfield on my television show - she was fabulous and I always loved her voice; I wish she were still with us so I could invite her onstage with me on this tour.
For the record
In an already packed and hugely successful career, Michael Ball has racked up some impressive milestones; he performed in An Evening With Michael Ball at the BBC Proms in 2007 at the Royal Albert Hall which was the first time the Proms had given an entire evening to a non-classical performer; the same year he made his debut with English National Opera at the Coliseum in Kismet and in October 2007 opened in the smash hit West End production of Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre. His starring role as Edna Turnblad earned him the well-deserved Olivier Award in 2008 for Best Actor In A Musical. And last year he launched his own BBC Radio 2 show, Michael Ball's Sunday Brunch which airs between 11am and 1pm every Sunday.