First Kidman, now Ball
wins friends for the Donmar
~ Evening Standard, 08/06/2001 by Robin Stringer
THE Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden is suddenly acquiring scores of
new Friends from a most unlikely source - the Michael Ball fan club.
Not since the memorable appearance of the briefly attired Nicole Kidman
in The Blue Room three years ago, has this little 250-seat West End theatre
felt itself to be so popular.
Then the rush to become a member was predominantly male-driven. Some
400 new Friends suddenly signed up, contributing a welcome 25,000 to the
Donmar coffers. This time it is the women who cannot wait to call themselves
a Friend of the Donmar, of which there are now around 1,800.
The motivation is clear. Only by becoming a Friend at an annual cost
of 25 can you take advantage of priority arrangements which enable you
to book ahead of the general public and secure your seat for your chosen
In this case the chosen one is the singer Michael Ball who is appearing
for two weeks at the theatre in September in the fourth Divas At The Donmar
season, which also features Sian Phillips and the returning Clive Rowe.
"The priority booking period only began this week and we have already
had 150 people joining so that they can take advantage of it," said
Donmar executive producer Caro Newling.
"It is clear that Michael Ball has a huge following and we are obviously
delighted at the response. When Nicole Kidman appeared here, a lot of
people joined as Friends and have since remained Friends. We hope that
Michael Ball fans plainly cannot get enough of their idol, star of West
End shows including Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera and
Stephen Sondheim's Passion, who regularly fills the Royal Albert Hall
with his one-man show.
However, they will encounter a different Michael Ball at the Donmar.
He is using the occasion to try out a range of new material in a programme
which he is still discussing with the theatre.
Whether the fans become so enamoured of the theatre that they then book
for the following show, Lillian Hellman's classic The Little Foxes starring
Penelope Wilton, remains to be seen.