He's Doing It For Love Not Money

Baz Bamigboye ~ Daily Mail - 16/07/2010 ~

Michael Ball's in love and the new romance will cost him something in the region of a quarter of a million pounds.

His long-time partner Cathy McGowan is encouraging his new relationship.

Actually, the affair's all to do with a musical called Love Story and not the kind of smutty fling premier league footballers get involved in.

And this is a real novelty for Michael, star of so many great hits.

Love Story will be the first show where his name appears as producer, not as one of the cast.

“The singer-actor saw Love Story, based on the Erich Segal novel that also became a famous movie starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal, during its world premiere run at Chichester's Minerva Theatre.

Later, he contacted Adam Spiegel, who was producing Love Story with Stephen Waley-Cohen, and suggested it should transfer into the West End.

'Essentially, Adam said did I want to put my money where my mouth is and come on board as a producer. I thought long and hard, not for very long, and you know when you get a sense that something's right, and this is.'

The cost of mounting Love Story in central London will come to a figure 'substantially under £1 million', so I'm guessing Michael has put up around £250,000, maybe more, maybe a tad less, but neither he nor Spiegel wanted to get into the vulgar topic of money, and quite rightly.

'I am putting in my cash and I don't do that lightly. I'm not going to tell you, can't tell you, but it's a significant amount for me.

It's a gamble, it is a risk, but I wanted to have a go.

'I'm not going to have to sell my house if it goes wrong,' Michael told me in Manchester, where he has just started a sold-out three week run at the city's Palace Theatre in Hairspray, repeating his celebrated Olivier-award winning role as Edna Turnblad.

Love Story's two leads, Emma Williams and Michael Xavier, who won rave reviews for their performances, will repeat their roles when the show hits the West End in late November. The precise theatre is still being negotiated.

Michael worked with Emma on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and has long been a fan of hers, so much so she performed with him during one of his concert tours.

The star was heavily involved in artistic discussions regarding Hairspray both in London and on tour so it seems a perfectly natural progression for him to become a bona fide producer.

And he stressed that it's not just about the colour of money. 'I want to get involved in the nuts and bolts of it,' he says.

What's more, he has plans to work with Spiegel on other shows plus he has an on-going relationship on future projects with Stage Entertainment, the company behind Hairspray and Sister Act.

He will take a break from the Hairspray tour to present his own daytime TV chat show, which begins a six-week run August 16, and if all goes well he may do more.

Next year, he has a concert tour, a new album in the spring and in the autumn of 2011 he will star opposite Imelda Staunton in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, which Michael calls the 'Hamlet or King Lear of the musical theatre world'. Jonathan Kent will direct at Chichester.

There had been talk of him being in Barnum and Shrek but, sadly, he wasn't able to do either, mainly because of his packed schedule. The director Rob Ashford was involved in both shows.

'I've said no to him every time so he'll probably never come back to me, but we'd both like to work together, we're on the same page,' Michael explained.

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