Why Michael's having a ball with his music ; Michael Ball, 51, is one of Britain's best-loved entertainers. The Bromsgrove-born singer, actor and broadcaster talks to Roger Crow about his new live concert DVD, Both Sides Now, his thoughts on the Oscar-winning film Les Miserables, and how he hits those show- stopping notes
FIVE MINUTES WITH... MICHAEL BALL What was the idea behind your new concert DVD? It was to try and do two different shows in one night. The first half celebrating the album (Both Sides Now), and the second half celebrating the theatre, specifically the people I'd worked with in the theatre. The second half of the DVD, celebrating your favourite musicals, is definitely you in your comfort zone Yeah, and also with the songs that we chose, it was all work I know really well from people I know really well, and it does make a difference. It's nerve-wracking when they're all in the audience.
You mention on the DVD singing a track from 'Joseph' As a kid. was that when you thought, 'I want to do this for the rest of my life'? No, I was eight. I had no idea, though I always enjoyed being on stage.
The first time I went on stage was in an amateur pantomime, when I was about four I think. We were meant to go on stage and sing 'Doe, A Deer' with the leading lady, but I'd fallen down the stairs and had two black eyes. Instead of singing I wanted to play trombone at the front of the stage - but I always enjoyed being in front of an audience.
Are the behind the scenes extras relatively short so fans are left hungry for more? You don't need to do warts and all (laughs). But I'm very hands on with what I do. I'm on top of sound and lighting as much as I can be, and at the end of the day it's me who'll be in trouble if it goes wrong. I was really proud of the way everyone came together, and the people working on the show love doing it.
We have a good atmosphere on the road, and because the show is so diverse it challenges all the musicians, the backing singers, the lighting, sound and everyone.
Do you get twitchy if you don't play live for a bit? Yeah, I do love it. That's where I'm most at home in front of an audience, and all audiences are different.
I had to go to Shanghai to do some concerts, and a Chinese audience is very different from most places. They're very respectful and quiet... and then they go mental.
Congratulations on the Olivier Award for Sweeney Todd. How do you top that? Thanks. I don't think you top it. I think you do the next thing well, and hope it comes together as well, and is received as well, but when something has been such a lifelong dream, for it to have been received so well... it's amazing.
How do you manage to hit those show-stopping notes? I guess that comes with practice. Getting your voice in the right place, knowing how to produce that, while saving yourself, knowing you've got to do that the next night as well. That comes from doing eight shows a week in the theatre. When you're doing 'Love Changes Everything' twice a night, you learn very quickly how to look after yourself. You made a name for yourself as Marius in Les Miserables. would you like to go back to the show, maybe as Javert? I've been asked to go back as Valjean. I did it, sort of, in front of The Queen at Windsor Castle; a shortened version, and I've always said no.
Marius is the role I created and the role I love. I would find it really weird going back and playing a different role. The same with The Phantom (of the Opera). I've been asked to do that. Never say never, but I can't see myself doing it.
What did you think of the film version with Hugh Jackman? Eighty per cent of it is absolutely magnificent, and 20% of it... not so. It gave people a new insight into Les Mis; people who wouldn't have seen it on stage who have since seen it live. I enjoyed your ITV chat show. is a second series in the pipeline? I don't think so. I don't think it worked for them as far as ratings, because it's an expensive show to do. Can we expect a lot more of the Sunday Night Radio 2 Show? Absolutely. That's my baby. There was nothing like that time slot before; we invented the show. It's just me wittering on with some good music, which to me is a joy. I enjoy sitting in for Ken Bruce as well.
? Michael Ball: Both Sides Now - Live in Concert is out on DVD now.
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