Hair Goes Michael Ball Again

~ Lorelei Reddin for Daily Echo - 22/05/2010 ~

How do you feel about bringing Edna back?

“My back is killing me – you forget how hard it is to walk in heels! No, it's brilliant, it's like getting back into a comfy pair of slippers. Apart from the shoes. It's nice to have a fresh cast and watch them discover it – the joy and the fun of rehearsals. First of all the panic of, ‘Are we going to get it done in time?' then the whole process of bringing Hairspray to life. I've never done a musical theatre tour, only my own shows on the road, so it will be great. I especially love The Mayflower and haven't been there for ages. It's near home for me, as I have a place in West Wittering, so hopefully I will be able to spend some time there.”

It seems that Hairspray has become a big part of your life. What's so special about the show …and Edna?

“I've never known a show or a part like it. Every night she transforms herself and goes on a life-changing journey. She's funny, camp and loves her family. People really care about her and I've always tried to do it so people don't think, ‘Oh that's Michael Ball in a dress'. I want them to suspend disbelief and love the character.

She's definitely not a drag act.”

Are you going to be doing things any differently from the West End version? Any new outfits?

“I wanted something a bit more flattering, phenomenal and outrageous! There's a lot of feathers, and everything matches. You won't believe my new outfit!”

I know part of the deal when you signed up to play Edna again was to be involved in a production capacity on Hairspray. How's that been?

“Great. I wanted to get more involved as soon as I'd finished my concert tour. I just feel that from the West End show, I've got a feel for how it should be. I've been involved in casting and getting us ready for the tour. A touring version can't be like the West End version and it's exciting to try and adapt it. I just want to make sure what people are getting is, I hope, better than the West End production. I wanted to make sure the quality, consistency and energy were all there.”

Apart from Hairspray, lots of other exciting things are happening for you. I saw you on Dancing on Ice as a guest judge. How was that?

“Well, I can tell you the last time I appeared on any kind of ice was in Gloucester in 1978! I didn't know what to expect, but I loved it. I was standing in for Robin Cousins. I don't know a thing about skating, but that's not what it's all about. I know about performance.”

You've also been doing more radio presenting. Is that something you enjoy?

“Yes, I was sharing a show with Terry Wogan! I had a two-hour special over Easter featuring Dolly Parton. I love it because I get to interview lots of lovely stars.”

Did you ever imagine your career would take you in all these wonderful directions?

“Never. I'm so lucky that I've been able to do things I wanted to do and try my hand at everything. That's the best thing about this business, you never know what's around the corner. Like Dame Vera Lynn being back in the charts earlier this year – who would have thought that?”

What's next for you?

“I'm going to be doing Sweeney Todd next year, which I'm very excited about. I know most actors want to do King Lear – well, Sweeney Todd is my King Lear!”

(Interview: Lorelei Reddin)


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