A lesson from the master- with no strings

~ Evening Post - June1, 2005, by Andy Smart ~


When it comes to leading men in musical theatre, they don't come any better than Michael Ball.

From his early days when he burst onto the scene as Marius in the incomparable Les Misérables to his latest role, stepping into the breach as larger-than-life Count Fosco in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Woman in White after Michael Crawford fell ill, he has consistently proved he has the voice, the charm, the acting talent and the charisma to be rightly described as the best of the best.

He reprised his great roles in this dynamic two-hour mix of show tunes, standards and one or two originals, including the self-penned That's What Love Is For .

It must be the Welsh side of his genes that blessed him with such an unmistakable voice: warm, smooth, yet filled with a power which seems to come out so easily.

He proved as much by delivering a thunderous Land of My Fathers to celebrate Wales' Grand Slam success earlier this year.

Michael's special guest was young, beautiful and awesomely gifted American violinist Lucia Micarelli who will learn a lot on this tour. Brilliant though she was, her choice of obscure pieces hardly ignited an audience which had filled the house to hear songs they know like old friends. A fast dash of popular Mozart or Vivaldi would have served her better and, it has to be said, Police's Roxanne adapted for solo violin does not work.

Michael made no such mistakes. This was perhaps the best constructed show he has taken on the road in the past two decades.

He always delivers what his fans want, familiar songs performed with the sort of passion that has forged his reputation.

There were a few surprises. He opened with Queen's Don't Stop Me Now , added their Show Must Go On later; and had the audience on their feet with (Is This The Way To) Amarillo .

He can rock up a storm when needed, but his calling card is the heaving ballads of musical theatre: This is The Moment (Sunset Boulevard) [JustBall.Net comment: It's actually from Jekyll & Hyde .] a perfect example.

Lucia returned to make a far more effective contribution with Music Is My First Love as a duet for vocal and violin.

For a finale, Michael invited the audience to join him in Love Changes Everything and, although there were plenty of men out there, I guarantee it was exclusively a girls' choir.

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