Open House

~ 24/102001 live on TV ~

G:    Well, thank you very much. We've got a wonderful audience and welcome along to a very special Open House which is dedicated to one of the most popular international performers. As you can see, we have an audience full of very excited Ballettes, who'd been queuing since early on this morning to welcome our special guest. Now he has created a whole ... many, many musical roles world wide and is regarded quite simply as one of the most powerful voices on the recording scene. And all I need to say at this stage is: here he is! Michael Ball!

Michael enters the studio to the applause and cheering of the audience to sing "Boy from Nowhere"

M:    Hey lovely girl.

G:    That was fantastic. (then sitting down) I'll tell you what. It's a great boy goes on with a belter like that. That is a tough song to sing.

M:    It's a great song to sing. I first heard it done by Tom Jones. I think he got it to No. 1 in the charts. We changed the arrangement a bit, so I start of right down low (speaking very low).

G:    Very down low (immitating him).

M:    Down lower than that (audience laughing). And it's my kind of a song. A song that has a great lyric, has a powerful lyric. It tells a story. It's a song I can act and it's got a great melody, that sorring melody.

G:    And you know what? You sing the rest of them off the face of the world.

M:    Oh, cheers. (doing a throwing away gesture, same time smiling and laughing proudly).

G:    Goes of the new album, "Centre Stage". All your faves.

M:    Yeah, I did an album of Musical songs about four, five years ago. When I was putting those together that's when I realized, there are about 5,000 other songs I could have included. So talking to friends, (pointing to the audience) and to fans giving me ideas, suggestions. Songs myself, that I knew I wanted to sing and also in that intervening five years a whole lot of new songs have come along from new shows. So I wanted to put together another musical album. So, including things from shows I did, but I didn't get to sing those songs like 'Phantom of the Opera', 'Les Mis' and so on. And also to introduce some new songs to....

G:    (interrupting) A bit of ABBA darling!

M:    A bit of ABBA. I know. Is that a con?

G:    I tell you!   

M:    Cause I was thinking, cause I love..... I'm a huge ABBA fan. 'Mamma Mia' is a great big show, but it is kind of contrived. I thought, now I'm gonna do 'The winner takes it all'.

G:    And I like it from you start sort of booking Opera stars to sort of be on your album with you. Like Lesley Garrett.

M:     Oh bless her. Yes Lesley Garrett. Well it was kind of quid pro quo. I did a new album, a new album she is bringing out, which was done with Michel LeGrand, who is ... we both worked with. He is fantastic, so we've recorded a duet and I thought. Well I'm going to do Phantom, I want to do the duet, who  do I know who ???? (Lesley and audience start laughing). And she was kind enough to say yes. We did a few concerts together. Now we did one, Chelmsford in the summer. She is such a lovely girl.

G:    And obviously all the hard work is trimming the weight. I tell you, it's a long time seeing you just look so trim.

M:    ( truly flattered ) Thank you. I'm working really hard on this as well. ( audience and Gloria laughing ). It's terrible. When you love ( looking to the audience ), you know this, when you really love food, you know, you really love food. And I do. And you know you have to be sense... with so much work going on. Naturally your energy burns off the calories and stuff, but I started training and I am sort of much healthier.

G:    ( looking to the audience ) Oh  I have to tell you though, cause the last time I saw you, you were off the cigarettes....

M:    ( pleading ) Oh, don't love. ( smiling playfully embarassed. Audience starts to laugh )

G:    Excuse me, excuse me. I said earlier: 'Now where's Michael?' and they went 'He's right in the back, having a fag!'

M:    ( smiling and nodding guiltily, then getting much more sincere ) Yeah, it's terrible isn't it? Well that happened, because .... I gave up. I actually gained a lot weight when I stopped smoking. That's one of the drags from it. But I had.... a horrible thing happened to me at Christmas, two days before Christmas. Our house caught fire. It was actually really, really quite serious. But we got out of the house, when the fire brigade are  arriving and were in such a state, you know. I was out there, in my pants and a jacket that Cath had thrown around me, literally watching our house go up in flames. And as the Fire Brigade were arriving, I am going: ( imitating himself, desperately searching for a cigarette ) has anyone got a fag, excuse me, forget it, have you got a fag? ( audience and Gloria in the meantime laughing )

G:    Forget the house

M:    So this one.... bless him this one bloke finally gave me a cigarette. And I said "Have you got a light?" ( Everybody now really LOL ) I swear this is true! Have you got a light. and he went "Well, no. We are not allowed to carry things like that." I said "Well, where can I get a light?" And he went..(g esturing towards where the house was ) "Truly in your house." 

G: I don´ t want to talk about that in detail because this is a really , really serious place.

M: Yeah, I´ ll tell you another thing though that did happen, which is a bit lighter on that. The next day as we were sitting in all the rubble , and I´ m now chain-smoking, you see and literally it´ s I mean..filthy , black and horror.

G: Disastrous. 

M: Really, really soul-destroying. But I lit up a fag in this rubble and Cath goes "Where´ s an ashtray?" ( LOL ) It´ s true! 

G: It just proves actually sometimes. 

M: ( interrupting her) And I was looking! 

G: ( laughing ) Oh no! 

M. I was going (i mitating himself looking round for an ashtray ) "Sorry love." And thought "What the hell am I doing ?!" You know. 

G: Houseproud Cathy. 

M: Yeah, absolutely.  

G: But sometimes you´ re in the depth of despair, the funniest things happen. 

M: Yeah. 

G: But we will talk about the fire in detail after the next break. 

M: Sure. 

G: I want to come back to the career point of it, because you did the Donmar Warehouse recently. 

M: Yeah, yes. 

G: Now that was a real departure , because it was only piano, wasn´ t it? 

M: It was one of the bravest things I´ ve ever done. I got a call from.( thinking about his previous sentence )..I think anyway!.And I got a call from Sam Mendes , who´ s the artistic director at the Donmar. And they have a season called "Divas at the Donmar". So. 

G: Are you a Diva ,darling? ( laughing

M: Well, I´ m trying to work out what the male equivalent is. I think it´ s a Duvet ( audience laughing ) or the Dude."the Dude at the Donmar" 

G: The Dude! ( laughing

M: And he asked if I´ d be interested in doing this and he said here is an opportunity, because you know the reputation of the Donmar. It´´ s experimental theatre, it´´ s exciting, it´ s a terrific space to work at. 

G: And it´ s small! 

M: Tiny. Everyone is around you, literally sitting this close (d emonstrating the distance between him and Gloria ). Only 250 people and it was an opportunity for me to do something really different, so I said to him I really would love to be involved in it. I want to work with a great director and devise myself at the director and a wonderful musical director, Jason Carr, if we could work out this show. I said about my prerequisites for the show as I´ m thinking about it, were: I´ m not gonna have any safety net . I´ m not gonna sing any song I´ ve ever sung before. 

G: That is brave. 

M: Yeah. I´ m not gonna have any contact speaking  with the audience. It´ s all going to be done through song. 

G: You never even said hello? 

M: I actually put in one.a couple of lines of dialogue just to ehm.after the second song. Just so that people were..I felt after the first week took people a while to realize it wasn´ t Michael Ball in cabaret, it was a theatrical event. So just a couple of lines to make that clear. That we were going on a journey of a performer told entirely through song. And that each song would emotionally link into the next song and take the audience on a journey. So we.that was that. I couldn´ t speak to the audience, I couldn´ t sing a song I´ ve ever sung before and only have a piano. And it was just so liberating. It was fantastic. 

G: And nerve-wracking I should think before the first show. 

M: The most scary.Every show!.the most scary , scary thing I´ ve ever done. But it just worked for me. It was a catharsis.  

G: But you pulled if off. Because  they wanted you to stay, it was such a sell-out they wanted you to stay in the West End, didn´ t they? 

M: They asked me to transfer it into the West End. But I didn´ t  feel right doing it. The show was devised with Jonathan Butterell, who is the director, who is an extraordinary talent. And I will be working with him again. Ehm.if we moved it to the West was so specific for that space..I didn´ t quite see how I could make it work in a larger auditorium.

G: I know.leave them wanting anyway. 

M: ( smiles ) Yeah. 

G: Oh yes. Actually we have a clip from the show. 

M: Have you? 

G: This is a song called "Solitude". So at what point in the show did this come? 

M: Well, this is.I` d opened the first act with one of my favourite things I´ ve ever done on a stage. It was a nine minute musical medley of Al Jolson songs and. 

G: Fantastic. 

M: A fantastic thing. For about nine minutes of this. It´ s 30 songs in nine minutes. And at the end the performer is showing what he can do on stage. And at the end, with the applause dying, I then went into Radiohead´ s "Nice Dream". And then this song, "My Solitude", despite the adulation and the screaming and the standing ovations you come off stage, you ´re on your own , if you don´t have anyone.  

G: Absolutely. Well, this is part of the song. Here it is. 

M: Ok.

                     [clip of "My Solitude" is shown] 

G: Lovely song! 

M: Yeah. 

G: A bit of good old fashioned perspiration there. 

M: I` ve just seen that thing. How raw is it? That was, I mean the other thing, you went on there was no posh frock , no make-up and it really shows, doesn´ t it? ( LOL

G: No, it was fantastic. I hope you enjoyed it. 

M: But that was the nice thing, to just strip absolutely everything away and just rely on my abilities as a performer, to tell a story through song.  

G: Wonderful. Now you would expect on a day like today that I would drag the odd film clip out of the archives, wouldn´ t you? Yeah? Not Coronation Street! Not Coronation Street! 

M: ( LOL ) Just read my mind Gloria! 

G: No, no we done that. We've done that, we've done that.

M: ( now getting really curious ) What else have you got?

G: Well, I want to bring you back to a show called..3-2-1.

M: ( Jaw dropping literally to the floor, embarassed realising, what it is ) NO WAY!

G: And ladies and gentlemen , I really want you to pay particular attention.. Excuse me. To the hair style and the earring. ( Michael hiding his face after his hands, the audience killing themselves laughing at his reaction ) It was the earring that got me. And I think we just play the film. 

M: ( Pleading desperately ) You can ´ t have found th is ! You can ´t have found this! 

G: ( laughing ) Let´ s see it. 

             [clip of 3-2-1 from 1988 is shown - much to the delight of the audience . In fact you hardly hear Michael singing through the laughing of the audience! ] 

M: ( pretending to leave the studio and shaking Gloria´ s hand ) Lovely to see you. ( sits down again

G: Isn ´t it just the most   hysterical   thing!? 

M: How the hell dod you find.oh my.I was the bin! 

G: You were a boy! 

M: That was I think probably my first ever TV appearance.  

G: Sweet! 

M: 3-2-1 ( Doing the countdown movement with his hand )  

G: Dusty bin!

M: Yeah.

G: And the earring, excuse me.  

M: I know yeah, I was very trendy. 

G: How long did you wear the earring? 

M: I had it for quite a while. 

G: Did you? 

M: I took it off. It´ s still there, it´ s still pierced. 

G: Oh, you still got the whole.  

M: I haven´t had worn one for ages. It was the hair! I look like Farrah Fa w cett! Gee! How did you dig that out?! 

G: And of course what are you? 40 next year. 

M: ( Now really getting breathless ) Thank you so much! 

G: Is it next year? 

M: I´ m really having the best time. 

G: I thought I drag it all out at the beginning, you know. 

M: Yeah, ok. No, I´ m not. 

G: Let´ s really get going.  

M: No, I´ m  working backwards. Yeah, I am.

G: Are you anxious about it? 

M: No, can ´t you see how relaxed I am ( playing really furious ) !?! I am actually, yeah. 

G: Will you have like a big concert or something to celebrate? 

M: Well I have been thinking. Because it´ s also.I think it´ s the tenth anniversary of the fan club. So it´ s their 10 th and my 35 th ( audience LOL ) . I´ m sticking with that. I was 32 up till a couple of years ago and now I can handle 35, now I´ m 40. I think the fan club will have an event. 

G: Lovely. 

M:   Which hopefully I ´ll get along to. And what I´ d really love to do is do a big concert for ROC: 

G: Fantastic. You could sing 40 sing. Don´ t you think that´ d be good? 

M: Yeah, great. Why would I sing 40 sings Gloria? I don ´ t understand. 

G: Well, 35 at least with room left over. 

M: Is it.What is it like? 

G: Listen if I was 40 next year I would be jumping up the dine with glee (???)! 

M: Oh I think it´ ll be alright.. 

G: Listen, I got the bus pass for goodness sake last year! Don ´t ask me if I´m  being 40! 

M: You looks belie that you see, you ´re lucky. 

G: Oh see, I paid you, I did. 

M: You can see how I 've aged by that clip. How did you find that? 

G: (??????????????????) you say right throughout the programme. I´ ll give you a copy just for posterity. Ladies and gentlemen I know you want to thank Michael at this stage of the programme. Michael Ball! ( applause ) Now clearly Michael is going to be staying right throughout the programme today, cause after all the programme is all about him. So I hope he doesn´ t go away. And after the break we´re going to be discussing that very traumatic time that actually he talked about, when his house virtually burned to the ground. A fire in which he could have lost his life! I can´t actually.we are lucky to have you here today! 

M: You are. 

G: No, but it is true he actually, he could have lost his life. So make sure you stay with us right after the break.

Thanks to Julia Sedat for transcribing most of this first part of the show. The second part, where Michael will tell about the horrendous house fire of last year's Christmas will be up here within the next couple of days. So be sure to check out regularly!  

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