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On Tour: February - March 2020
On the Big Screen: Ball & Boe @ the O2
1980 - 1981
Surrey Youth Theatre : “The Boyfriend” (1980), “Under Milk Wood” (1981)
After graduation from the Guildford School of Acting in 1984 Michael´s career advanced rapidly. Although he has never had a singing lesson he started his career as Judas/John, The Baptist in "Godspell" (Abystwyth/Wales). After some months of rep in Basingstoke he played Frederic in "The Pirates of Penzance" at the Opera House in Manchester.
This appearance was seen by Cameron Mackintosh who invited Michael to audition for the part of Marius in "Les Misérables". This marked Michael´s West End debut. Before his appearance in "Les Misérables" Michael got the chance to play a small part in one of his favourite TV-shows "Coronation Street" as Malcolm Nuttall.
After a few months break from Musical Theatre, Michael was offered the role of Raoul in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous "Phantom of the Opera". Michael took the chance to get back on stage.
Next he was cast for the lead in Andrew Lloyd Webber´s new musical "Aspects of Love". He originated the character of Alex. The pre-released single "Love changes everything" brought Michael his first silver disc. After being awarded as the "Most promising Artiste" with the Variety Club Award, Michael left for New York to bring his part of Alex to Broadway.
His appearance on Broadway was followed by another big break from Musical Theatre. Michael decided to put his solo career in some other direction and worked on his Solo career. In 1992 he represented Great Britain in the "Eurovision Song Contest" with his hit single "One step out of time".
This single as well as his debut album "Michael Ball" hit top places in the UK charts within the first weeks. The release of his album was immediately followed by a sell-out tour through the UK. Furthermore had he been among the stars who performed at the Queen's 40th Anniversary Gala and the Royal Variety Show.
1993 saw Michael again touring the UK and recording "West Side Story" together with Barbara Bonney. The same year he recorded six episodes of his own TV-series "Michael Ball" for ITV. On his guest-list were names such as Montserrat Caballé, Cliff Richard, Elaine Paige, Gloria Estefan, Ray Charles, Dionne Warwick, Take That and the Bee Gees. His second album "Always" debuted at no. 3 in the UK charts in September 1993. Afterwards he signed an exclusive contract with Sony music for his next album.
"One Careful Owner" was released in August 1994 and gained Gold status. Michael’s second series of his own TV show had again some big stars. Montserrat Caballé sang as well together with Michael as did Shirley Bassey, Cher, James Brown, Lulu and Joe Cocker. A third tour and the release of his compilation album "The Best Of Michael Ball" marked another successful year in his life.
1995 showed us yet another side of Michael Ball. Not only did he record a Christmas Special for Carlton TV that was shown on Christmas Eve, where his guests were Dusty Springfield and Michael Bolton. He also got the chance to recreate Marius in the Tenth Anniversary Gala Concert of "Les Misérables" at the Royal Albert Hall. Michael took some time of the year to participate in the movie "England, my England" where he played the composer Henry Purcell.
Within the next year Michael gave his long awaited comeback to the Musical Stages.
He played Giorgio in the Stephen Sondheim musical "Passion". After
spending some months in the West End Michael had still enough power to record
his new album "The Musicals" and to have another sell-out tour.
At the beginning of 1997 Michael's first live video was published. It showed a parts of the concert, he had given the year before in Glasgow. This year he performed in some Open Air concerts and yet another tour.
1998 was mostly filled with several concerts and special appearances by Michael. His personal highlight was the Andrew Lloyd Webber Celebration Gala. Michael appeared singing a breathtaking version of "Gethsemane", "All I ask of you" as a duet with Sarah Brightman and "Vaults of heaven". Michael also rounded up with singing his "Love changes everything" with one of the most prominent backing choir a performer can dream of. Among the people who accompanied Michael were names like: Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas, Sarah Brightman, Marcus Lovett, Elaine Paige, Donny Osmond, Tina Arena and many more.
In June he participated also in the big "Hey, Mr. Producer" gala, that honoured and celebrated the life and work of Cameron Mackintosh. On the video that got published afterwards Michael can be seen singing in a short "Phantom of the Opera" sequence, "Losing my mind" and again as Marius in "One more day" from "Les Misérables".
Before the year was over Michael spent some more time in the studios to record his next album "The Movies", which was his first album to go Platinum.
After one decade Michael was again honoured with a Variety Club Award. This time he gained the award as "Best recording artiste". During March and April Michael came up with another sell-out spring tour. Now it was time that Michael showed us that he is not only a very talented singer and actor, but also a good songwriter. "Someone else's dream" was the first song he wrote with a little help from Brian Kennedy. Certainly most remarkable was his "first concert in Europe". Michael ended up having his first concert on the European continent in Amsterdam on the 7th May. No surprise, that it was a huge success. Before taking a holiday Michael appeared in several concerts including Hampton Court, The Liverpool Summer Pops, Castle Howard, Glamis Castle and Longleat. On 26th July Michael was also awarded as "The most popular Musical Stage Actor" by the Theatregoer's Club of Great Britain.
In September he had several concerts in Ireland. At the end of the year he released the long-awaited new live Video "Michael Ball – Live at the Royal Albert Hall" that went into the charts at no. 1. As a special edition set he released also a live CD of the Royal Albert Hall concert and a Christmas album. On the Christmas album you can find Michael´s second self-written song "Light a candle".
The millennium ended also very successful for Michael as he performed on New Year's Eve in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in front of more than 100,000 people.
The year 2000 showed again new aspects of Michael. His fans could admire him in a concert he did in Edinburgh in march, as well as earlier accompanying Michel LeGrand at one of his concert for a guest appearance. Michael was working hard on his latest solo album "This Time ... it's Personal". The title said it all, it is a very personal thing and Michael has to be each reason to be proud of this one. TTIP has reached gold status in the meantime. In August, he put his career yet a step further by going to the US for a week. The RAH video was shown at PBS stations all over the country. Therefore Michael did some promotion for the video at five PBS stations.
September, October and November saw Michael again doing a sell-out UK tour, that was a big success and according to his fans has been the best tour he has done so far. At the end of October TTIP, the CD as well as the video by the same name have been released.
2001 marked another step in Michael's way to World Domination. It was March, 10 th that Michael did his first concert Down Under. Highly successful he played to a packed house in Sydney. Some of his CDs have been released Down Under as well in the meantime. And what started as a rather quiet year for most fans soon turned to be another VERY expensive year for most fans. It started rather harmless with an appearance in the Midsummer Classics taking place at the Royal Albert Hall. But then: Not only did he do two concerts in Harrogate, participated for the second time (after 1999) at the Liverpool Summer Pops, did an Open Air at Audley End as well as an Open Air in Chelmsford (there were rumours to rename it Cold and Wet Air!).
Little did we know, when we all drowned at Chelmsford, that Michael's highlight of the year was yet to come. I dare say maybe the highlight of his career. Sam Mendes (director of American Beauty and until 2002 director of the Donmar) offered Michael to take certainly one of the most famous stages the West End has to offer: Michael was offered to participate in the Divas of the Donmar programme. Stages that had seen already Philip Quast, Colin Firth, Zoe Wannamaker and not to forget the naked Nicole Kidman! Together with his director Jonathan Butterell (whom he'd learned to know during Passion times) and his musical director Jason Carr he produced one of the best pieces of theatre there are in my opinion. Not only his fans, but as well many experts were astonished Michael was not included in the Olivier nominations for that year! Referring to an interview he did afterwards, there were definite plans for Michael to extend his 2-weeks run of this amazing success. Definite plans saw, that Michael should bring the show to New York (most certainly in November 2001), but the horrible tragedy of September, 11 th effected Michael as well. The plans were put on hold and the US fans had to live with the video or DVD that was published of the show at first. Michael as well had offers to take the show to other West End stages, but he refused the offer. He thought the show was made for the small and intimate atmosphere and audience of the Donmar.
Michael himself caused severe rumours of him getting back on the musical stages by a sentence given to his fans after the last performance (“Something very exciting might be coming up!”). Little did we know the producers of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” had seen one of the shows and asked him to be Ian Flemming's biggest hero. Stop! NO! stop that dumdadadum dadadadumdadadum music and Michael entering a ring on the screen. Pierce Brosnan was not going to retire soon. Michael was offered the part of Caractacus Potts. After some dance rehearsals with the choreographer Gillian Lynne he accepted. Goodness, what a switch. Who would have thought, that after a thought provoking show like the Donmar show, our hero would do a children's musical like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”? If there is something about Michael Ball, then: He is unpredictable.
Doing this show meant another sad twist for his Down Under fans. The plans for a tour down under in February, as well as plans for a UK tour in May 2002 had to be postponed. Still the year was not over. During the days of the Donmar show Michael's second musicals album “Centre Stage” (and probably again his best. Okay, yes my humble opinion ranks it 2 nd behind This Time … It's Personal!). However the live Michael was next seen as part of the “Rhapsody in Rock” show in November, again at the Royal Albert Hall. Due to the cancellation of the tour in 2002 we had a five part Christmas tour with the (don't sigh so loud and bored. Is it my fault, that this year was packed with highlights? Blame him!) best concert I had seen in an eternity.
But yes, the year was over, finally and somehow sadly, as 2001 will ever held many, many nice memories for me and many others as well, I am sure! Michael hopefully took a well-deserved Christmas break, before rehearsals for Chitty started in January 2002. Besides doing the rehearsals Michael presented Martine McCutcheon with an Olivier Award for her performance as Eliza Doolittle. Preview time came up and the first viewers could check how well Michael did in the dancing lessons, as this was the only question to be asked. Singing and Acting should not be a problem, but as he claimed over and over again, he was no dancer. Let me tell you, he did a wonderful job. The Press Night was a complete success! Most critics took it as what it is: A children's show, that wants to entertain and that it does at its best. If you have the slightest chance to get close to the London Palladium this year, be sure to do so, you won't regret it, even if you think: CHITTY? What the h… is going on with him? WHY CHITTY? It's a brilliant show. You cannot help but laugh throughout the show, and I don't think I have seen anybody leaving without humming a song of the show or trying to do the Bombie Samba! Michael, please take my apologies for not trusting in your own judgement.
2002 did not only bring us a dancing Michael at his best. We also had him live at the Hampton Court Festival and for two more Open Air concerts at Blickling Hall and Marble Hill. Not to forget one of Michael's personal highlights of the year. His long dreaded 40th birthday, which was accompanied for one of the greatest Fan Club Events ever!
While most of the Original London Cast left Chitty on 15th March 2003, Michael stayed for another four months and left after a breathtaking welcome and good-bye on 19th July 2003 that left cast, audience and Michael in tears. Chitty stayed for most fans a very special memory, 1,5 years they will never forget, Kerstin and Julia at JustBall are just two of them.
As it's not Michael's thing to rest for an eternity, soon after finishing Chitty he got back into the recording studios to produce one of the most special albums Michael did: "A Love Story". For the first time after "Alone Together" Michael tried to tell a story through songs. This time he published it on an album. In Just Ball's opinion it's been the best one he ever did! Three long years without a real national tour finished in at the end of October, when Michael started his 11th national sell-out tour. Contrasting his two preceeding tours he went back to the old scheme where he had a support act. This time his support act were "The Magnets". The year finished with another milestone for Michael. He was able to perform for the first time at the famous "Royal Opera House" in Covent Garden. He was joined by a group of other famous theatre musical names including Michael McCarthy, Emma Williams and many others in a musical night.
On 19 July Michael finished his run in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He released the album “Love Story” and did a national tour of the same name.
2004 seems to be in the book as the year that saw Michael travelling the most for concerts. At the beginning of the year a dream came true for Michael's Australian fans as well as for his US fans. Not only did Michael a small Australian tour covering the cities of Melbourne, Wollongong, Perth and performing at the world famous Sydney Opera House. After getting back to England he soon headed over to Irish city Cork, where he finally became Joe Gillis in a concert version of "Sunset Boulevard" with Petula Clark in the lead and Emma Williams as Betty Schaefer. Two shows were done and recorded to be aired on BBC radio 2.
The Honours were not to stop yet, as the American fans were still in for their treat. 14th of May was officially announced as Michael Ball Day in Salt Lake City. The same day he was awarded the Key to the City. Fans were able to come close to him in a special record signing at the local Borders store. Michael performed to two sell-out audiences and gave it all. Too much actually. The day after the last concert Michael was scheduled to sing with the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. His voice went before the concert started and he had to cancel.
Somewhere in between all this Michael found the time to head over to Broadway to do the recordings for his third series of Ball over Broadway which was aired during May and June on BBC 2. Back in England Michael toured around the country in some Open Air Concerts. He was part of the Llangollen Eistedfodd, where he finished the week with a gala concert. Another concert saw him at the Reebok Stadium of the Bolton Wanderers. At the end of July another Fan Club Event took place that was attended by Michael.
What was supposed to be another highlight for Michael though ended rather sad. "Musicals on a Summers Eve" was a four concert open-air series that based ont he Royal Opera House concert taking place of the end of 2003. Two concerts took place, but then the last two concerts had to be cancelled. Sadly for Michael and many of his fans the news broke just minutes before his concert at Stowe House started. Due to the promoter being in liquidation the last two concerts could not take place. Especially sad, if you know Prince's Street Gardens in Edinburgh and you'd have seen what a gorgeous setting this would have been for a Michael concert.
Things lightened up and we had Michael back in the West End for a slightly altered version of Alone Together, which he did at the Theatre Royal haymarket. Here he "announced" an Edinburgh concert which should take place at the beginnning of December and was to be aired on Christmas Eve on BBC Radio 2. Now, we did not know what 2005 would bring, apart from another tour.
If 2005 showed his fans something, then it was mainly that Michael Ball will never be predictable. At the beginning of the year we still thought: He will start record his latest album, then do a week of presenting "This morning" on TV, just to be back in the limelight with a fabulous summer tour, starting in May and ending on his birthday. Little did we know Michael Crawford would cause such a huge change of plans that would have a massive impact on what was to come, changing plans till far in the future (okay, until early 2006 at least).
After being asked to stand in for a short time for the ill-fallen Michael Crawford, our Michael took over the role of Count Fosco in Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical "The Woman in White". For many of his newer fans it was a chance to experience the unbelievable chemistry between Michael and his former "Passion" co-star Maria Friedman for the first time. Michael took over after just ten days of rehearsal. Taking over as Fosco meant Michael had to postpone plans for the new album which was now to be released during autumn. After having extended his run at the Palace Theatre until the end of April, Michael had left "The Woman in White". Only to star at "The Night of 1000 voices" at the Royal Albert Hall. The event was dedicated to late Caren Keating, daughter of long-time family friend Gloria Hunniford.
Directly aftewards Michael headed to New York to record another series of his famous and award-winning "Ball over Broadway" series for the BBC.
No time to take a breath after his return from the Big Apple: he directly went to preparing the tour that would open soon in Blackpool. We no doubt experienced the best Michael Ball there has ever been during these precious concerts. We were presented with loads of new material and a fantastic stage show ( co-starring Missy the rat from "The Woman in White", Michael's special guest and duet partner for his Coutn Fosco number). Unforgettable for everyone and the best tour so far. We all agreed on that.
After the tour had finished, Michael told us there would be one mere holiDAY, before he had to get back home and start working on the album. No time for a longer rest. Michael only had July to work on it, as he had do head back to New York in August to prepare for his New York Opera debut, starring in Gilbert & Sullivan's "Patience", an operetta. A whole new medium for Michael and another highly acclaimed performance that won him some of the best ( New York) reviews Michael had ever received. Patience was not even finished, when Michael had to start rehearsals for " The Woman in White" in New York. He would reprise his role of Count Fosco on Broadway.
Before the show opened, Michael was given one week off to head bak to London to promote his new album. He was literally doing promotion until the very last second. After his last TV appearance a motorbike driver brought him to Heathrow airport, just so he could get his plane on time.
Unfortunately Woman in White did not receive the promotion it deserved. All publications surrounding the start of Webber's latest work seemed to be concentrating on Maria Friedman's battle with breast cancer. Just a few days into previews Maria discovered a lump in her breast. Shortly aftewards the diagnosis of breast cancer seemed to hinder her Broadway debut. The trooper she is, she managed to be back on stage shortly after the surgery, where the lump was removed. With hardly any advertisements the fate of the musical seemed to be decided, especially as many thought this was not really a musical that would be loved by American audiences.
The show seems doomed, for Michael fell seriously ill at the end of the year. A severe flu caused Michael to miss out two weeks of performances.
2006 didn't have a happy start for Michael and his fans. Just when he got back on stage after having barely recovered from the flu, he was struck by a severe throat infection. Though he tried everything, he was put on several weeks of complete vocal rest by his doctors. He finally had to realise he had to withdraw from the production to get a prolonged rest. Returning too early would have risked permanent damage to his voice, so he had no choice. The following day it was announced to everyone's shock (Michael, the whole cast...we were there that day, no one had seen this coming) that The Woman in White would close down completely merely two weeks later on February the 19th. Nearly one month prior to the original closing date (12th of March).
Luckily the year took a much happier turn once he was back home and on full form again.
Apart from a series of five highly successful summer concerts (one of them actually bringing him back to Basingstoke where his roots as a trained actor lay, another saw him dueting with Elaine Paige) Michael was seen doing remarkable one off concerts,too:
On a completely different note (no pun intended) Michael took to opportunity to be a judge for the BBC's Radio 2 show “Voice of Musical Theatre 2006”. A musical theatre based variety of Pop Idol, if you will. This obviously appealed to him so much that he did a very similar job in early 2007.
To the delight of his fans, he announced his 10th (!) UK tour for spring 2007 and also his return to the stage for ENO's production of Kismet.
This year began with Michael being part of the (in)famous Soapstar Superstar panel for ITV 1. He was regarded as a fair judge and as giving very constructive criticism by all contestants. One of them, although not the show's winner, impressed Michael so greatly that he offered her to share a duet with him in his upcoming UK tour. Hayley Tameddon is the lucky one. She is scheduled to appear with him at his Blackpool and Manchester gig.
Talking of dueting, Michael made an appearance on Lesley Garrett's new album ("Come What May" is the song in question).
His national Tour lasted through March and April. Kick off was in Belfast on March 12th and the final night was scheduled to be in Cardiff on April the 14th. Due to ill health he had to cancel the Bristol concert though and re-scheduled it on the 16th of April, which was then the last night of the tour.
The end of June and the first half of July saw Michael perform in ENO's Kismet as Hadj. While the production was troubled, the whole cast was excellent and guaranteed a fun night out.
After having grown a full beard for the first time ever for his role in Kismet, his latest West End adventure took Michael to quite the opposite extreme: he became a married mother of one!
With previews from October 11th Hairspray opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre on the 30th and in it Michael stars as Edna Turnblad, the heroine's mother. Yup, mother, that's correct. He has a six months contract with the option to extend it.
Apart from that his latest album Back to Bacharach was released on the 22nd of October and the DVD that was recorded at the Hammersmith concert of the tour is scheduled to be released on October 19th .
The award season began with a smashing success for Michael and Hairspray. Apart from securing the Critics' Choice Award for Best Musical, it scooped up 10 nominations for the Theatregoers' Choice Awards and won seven of those. Amongst them the award for Best Actor in a Musical for Michael.
Michael extended his run in Hairspray one last time and the final last night was 25 July 2009.
Michael brings Hairspray on the road and returns as Edna Turnblad to Cardiff, Glasgow, Southampton, Manchester, Dublin and Edinburgh (December 2010 - Junuary 2011). He is also associate producer for Stage Entertainment.
Michael appeared as Edna Turnblad in Edinburgh, London (New Wimbledon Theatre) and Bristol.
Throughout the year Michael continued his BBC Radio 2 show Sunday Brunch.
In January Michael started his new weekly radio show for BBC Radio 2: Sunday Night with Michael Ball.
On 28 April Michael won his second Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for Sweeney Todd. Other awards for this production were Best Actress in a Musical for Imelda Staunton as well as Best Musical Revival.
August finds Michael giving open air concerts in Audley End and Abu Dhabi (two nights, closing the SummerFest together with Callum McLeod and the British Philharmonic Orchestra). He also sits in for Ken Bruce for two weeks (BBC Radio 2).
In September he perfoms at Kenwood House and in a gala at Sadler's Wells.
The Plymouth University awards Michael with an Honorary Doctorate of Arts (20 September).
In January filming started for the TV movie “That Day We Sang” (originally “Tubby and Enid”) by Victoria Wood with Imelda Staunton. The film will be aired at Christmas on BBC Two.
2015 was another busy year for Michael. He continued to host his weekly BBC Radio 2 show Sunday Night with Michael Ball but mainly spent the year on the stages up and down the country.
2016 began with Michael receiving his OBE from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace.
2017 saw Michael giving another concert at the London Hippodrome Casino in February.
Michael and Alfie bring Together Again to Japan in February, playing three dates at the Orb Theatre in Tokyo.
Michael's new solo album Coming Home to You was released on 22 March and entered the UK album charts at number 1 (first solo number 1 in 27 years, after his first album, 3 consecutive number 1 counting the Ball & Boe albums).
February and March will see Michael and Alfie taking their latest album Back Together on the road in an UK arena tour. On 28 & 29 March their O2 concert will be shown at local cinemas.