Michael Ball ... on having a ball

~ The Diary - 13/07/2010 ~

WHILE strapping on a fat suit and a pair of fake boobs during the height of summer isn't everyone's idea of a good time, nothing makes Michael Ball happier.

He heads to town tonight for a sold-out three-week run reprising his role as plus-size Edna Turnblad in musical Hairspray.

And after an illustrious 25-year career, the performer says Edna, the matriarch in the feel-good musical, has been the best character he's ever played.

“ It's Edna, Edna, Edna,” he sings. “Why? Because it's the biggest challenge I've ever had; it's not something that people immediately thought I would be able to do.

“ It's just brought me nothing but happiness.”

Clearly, Mrs Turnblad is no ordinary lady, but with the huge padded suit and wig, does she leave the singer hot under the collar?

“ It does get hot,” he admits “and I've been know to carry those little fans with me to blow down my cleavage!”

The Diary caught up with the star as he headed to the Manchester Opera House this week – the same venue which Michael says gave him his ‘biggest break' when he did the Pirates of Penzance back in 1985, and he even had a stint on Coronation Street.

“ I got to fulfil my biggest fantasy. I got to know some of the casting people at Corrie and they put me in for two episodes,” he says, reminiscing about his role as Kevin Webster's love rival, Malcolm Nuttall.

“ I love coming back to Manchester I have the best memories of the place. It's always on the top of the list when I do my concert tours.”

And if you missed out on getting a ticket at the sell-out three-week run at the Opera House, there are still plenty of opportunities to see him.

For straight after finishing in Manchester he's back at work for his new ITV chat show – The Michael Ball Show – which will be on at 3pm for six weeks.

“ I'll be interviewing celebrity guests, people in the news at that time, a bit of cooking, performances,” he explains. “I'm really looking forward to it.”

And you'd think that with Michael hoping to bring a new album out in March next year, as well as a concert tour to promote, that would be enough.

But no, he's set to take the lead in a production he's longed to do – playing the demon barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd. He says: “It's very difficult, it's very dark, it's everything that Hairspray isn't and it's nice to challenge yourself like that.”

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