Past and Present - The Very Best Of

Release date: 9 th March 2009 Through: UMTV

Michael Ball, Britain's leading musical theatre star, multi-platinum recording artist, TV and radio presenter and Olivier Award winner celebrates 25 years in music and theatre in 2009. To honour this auspicious occasion, Universal Music are to release an outstanding collection of favourite songs and newly recorded tracks titled Past and Present – The Very Best Of Michael Ball on March 9 th .

Some of Michael's best known songs are included on the album which spans an incredible career in the worlds of theatre and music; from his West End debut in Les Miserables in 1985 to his Olivier Award winning performance as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray , this absolute must-have collection also features six brand new recordings from Kismet , Hairspray and An Evening With Michael Ball at the BBC Proms in 2007.

The album opens with The Impossible Dream, a great favourite with concert goers and taken from the Broadway production and film Man From La Mancha. It's the first time Michael's ever recorded it. And at last record buyers will be able to have their own copy of the brand new and only recording of Michael and the West End cast of Hairspray performing You Can't Stop The Beat, the showstopping finale that always gets the audience dancing.

Other new recordings include This Is My Beloved/Stranger In Paradise from Kismet in which Michael made his 2007 debut with the ENO in the leading role as Hajj/The Poet – and for which he garnered universal critical acclaim. He sang This Is My Beloved in the show – here he ‘steals' the lyrical, romantic Stranger In Paradise sung in the opera/show/film by the Prince.

The Prayer is the duet performed by Michael and the Olivier Award winning actress and singer, Laura Michelle Kelly onstage at the Royal Albert Hall in June 2007 at An Evening With Michael Ball at the BBC Proms – it was the first time an entire evening had been given to a non-classical singer in the history of the Proms. The song won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for Carole Bayer Sager who wrote it for the 1998 animated film Quest For Camelot.

Michael's many West End and Broadway credits are represented here; from his 1985 debut as Marius in Les Miserables he sings the beautiful Empty Chairs, Empty Tables (which he recently performed on ITV's South Bank Show Awards), All I Ask Of You (1986) from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera and Love Changes Everything (1989) Michael's chart topping song from Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love in which Michael starred in the West End and on Broadway. Two of Michael's concert favourites are Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard and the Rice/Lloyd Webber composition Gethsamene from the 1972 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar which appears on Michael's 1999 album, Live At The Albert Hall.

The Boy From Nowhere, from the 1991 musical Matador was originally recorded for Michael's ‘Centre Stage' album in 2001; Tell Me It's Not True is from Willy Russell's enduring musical, Blood Brothers, while This Is The Moment, another of Michael's fans' favourites, is taken from the Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde and The Winner Takes It All from Mamma Mia was originally written and recorded by Abba for their 1980 Super Trouper album.

Garth Brooks' lyrical pop song, If Tomorrow Never Comes was originally recorded by Michael for his 2000 album, ‘This Time It's Personal', and Freddie Mercury's dramatic, poignant The Show Must Go On is a massive favourite at Michael's concerts. Michael's 1992 Eurovision entry, One Step Out Of Time, was recorded live and his own composition, Just When, was originally recorded for his ‘This Time It's Personal' album.

One of Michael's favourite American composers is the legendary Stephen Sondheim from whose huge canon of work Michael has chosen to record Loving You from the musical Passion, Being Alive from the underrated 1972 musical, Company and the glorious ballad Not While I'm Around from Sweeney Tod which is actually sung by the lead character, Mrs Lovett, and most recently performed by Helena Bonham Carter in the movie. Michael swears he didn't wear one of Edna's dresses when he recorded this one…

MICHAEL BALL on 25 years of music and theatre:

“It's a milestone and a celebration,” says Michael. “I really think that if you can still be doing this after 25 years, it's worth celebrating!

“I'm lucky that a lot of what I've done has been recorded so I've got a catalogue of 25 years of work going right back to Les Mis . It's been lovely to be able to record music from Hairspray and Kismet for the first time too – and I persuaded the whole Hairspray cast to come and record ‘You Can't Stop The Beat' which I think is everyone's favourite song from the show.

“Getting my own Prom in 2007 was a career highlight – it was an amazing evening. Laura Michelle Kelly joined me onstage at the Royal Albert Hall to sing ‘The Prayer' so I invited her to come and record it with me for the album. I've also recorded ‘Being Alive' , a great number by Stephen Sondheim – it's the hardest song I've ever sung but it's a great number; I've also recorded my first ever audition song, ‘The Impossible Dream' from ‘Man Of La Mancha' …I've had lots of requests to record it so here it is!

“Every song on this album represents a major memory for me. Every time you open in a show, every time you create a new character, it's a career highlight. The obvious ones are Les Mis , Phantom , Aspects of Love , Passion ; the Proms, winning the Olivier and the whole Hairspray experience has been the best of my life. Appearing on Broadway for the first time, singing at the Sydney Opera House, the millennium concert in Kuala Lumpar, Windsor Castle – all these amazing places you get to perform in. And I love doing my radio show! This last year has, without question, been the busiest and most varied of my entire career. Who'd have thought a big fat housewife from Baltimore would be my soulmate!

“So I find myself after 25 years never happier, more fulfilled and more stretched. And thanks to Universal I can carry on making records of a first class quality with fantastic musicians.”

Michael won the 2008 Olivier Award for Best Actor In A Musical with his superb performance as the lovable, supersized Edna Turnblad in the hit West End production of Hairspray in which he stars until the end of July 2009. Michael has won critical acclaim and the hearts of a fiercely loyal public with his numerous performances in West End and Broadway shows; his solo recording career has had parallel success earning him chart toppers and gold and platinum discs while his regular concert tours sell out within hours of going on sale. Since April 2008 Michael has been hosting his own weekly BBC Radio 2 show – Michael Ball's Sunday Brunch ­– which airs from 11am to 1pm every Sunday.

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