BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, AUGUST 6, 2023
“It is Ball’s show, of course. His interpretation of George is to some extent a mirror of his own character that he has put on display over the past 25 years – genial, debonair, slightly camp, but with the biggest of hearts. Without the force of his persona, this iteration of ASPECTS OF LOVE would have no reason to exist.” Scott Matthewman. Musicals Magazine.
Michael Ball is the quintessential actor. Yes, he’s a brilliant singer, but it’s not that glorious voice alone that’s made him a household name. “I got involved in the Surrey Country youth theatre which led me to go to drama school where I realised that this was going to have to be my career, and I was really lucky to get big breaks early on.” Yes, he was lucky. But Michael wouldn’t have gotten those breaks without the talent to back them up. He loves being an actor. It defines him. It’s who he is. His passion for his career shows in everything he does. We see it onstage. In interviews. In his respect for everyone in a production, from the stagehands to the director. And in his conversations or interviews with his fellow actors.
“Let’s kick off with a bit of Elton,” Michael says at the open of the show. “I’m still standing. I don’t know how.” Neither do I. He’s keeping up quite a schedule these days. Elton John’s ‘I’m Still Standing’ says it all. Then, “I’m about to play the wrong theme tune,” he giggles. And then he does! Oh, this show is going to be a great ride! Lots & lots of giggles already. This is the fun-loving and funny Michael Ball the world loves. A side note: Michael may be exhausted, but he’s in fine voice today, rich and mellifluous.
The Family Album is quite touching. Michael says he hopes to do justice for Jodi and her precious baby daughter Etta Grace. Judging by the tears in my eyes, he did more than that. His gorgeous and emotional voice told the story so beautifully.
On the Ball. First contestant is Julie. They talk about how tired they are of the rain. Michael says he “put the shorts on anyway even though it isn’t very warm.” Julie is a cycle widow, which means her husband is a biking fanatic. Michael has LOTS to say about this, all hilarious! Uh-oh. She picked the middle one on the first question. “You have a very large black mark against you now,” Michael declares. More giggles. Julie’s husband John is the second contestant. Michael immediately accuses him of having a bike fetish, which makes them both laugh hysterically. Their banter about bikes is a hoot! John also runs a theater which employs deaf actors and caters to the deaf. Michael LOVES this and tells a delightful story about something that happened during “Hairspray.” Giggles, giggles & more giggles for both of them!
Orna. She’s not in-house this week, but it doesn’t matter. Their banter is always a treat. Lots & lots of snarled traffic. Brava, Orna, for getting through that IMMENSE list! When she returns they both do a few voices (after the Gabriel Vick interview) and, well … enough said. Then there’s a least a minute of nothing but the 2 of them laughing at how bad Orna sounded. She’s such a good sport as Michael teases her endlessly. How I love these two!
Michael’s first guest is Jeremy Swift, who has had a vast career on both stage and screen. His latest role is Leslie Higgins in Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso,” and he’s been garnering kudos and award nominations everywhere. I especially loved him as the opinionated Spratt, the dowager’s butler in “Downton Abbey,” among other stellar roles he can lay claim to. Swift is also a passionate music lover and recently released an album, “Songs of Escape and Endless Night.” Michael loves “Ted Lasso” and calls it the perfect TV show, despite the fact that he hates football. It’s a multigenerational show, funny and gripping. Unfortunately, it may not be coming back as the closing episode of the last season had the perfect ending. Swift has been in so many top-notch series, which he discusses a bit. He also talks about his new album and his background in music. Surprisingly for Michael, Jeremy hasn’t done any musicals, something Michael insists MUST change! And for a bit of trivia: Jeremy and Michael both attended the Guildford School of Acting. Full confession: I’m a HUGE Jeremy Swift fan and have been for a very long time.
Michael’s next guest is Gabriel Vick, currently starring as Daniel Hillard in the West End musical “Mrs. Doubtfire,” a role made famous by Robin Williams in the film. Michael congratulates him on the stunning reviews and confesses he always says he won’t read reviews … and then does. Vick has imitated Michael in the past, and they joke about it. He has an ear for voices and loves doing them. And he demonstrates several on the air, delighting Michael. They discuss Vick’s transformation from Daniel to Mrs. Doubtfire, which is fascinating. And they talk about the voice he uses as the character, beginning with a perfect imitation of Robin before it becomes his own interpretation. Vick says this is the role of a lifetime, a character that encompasses all he does well. “Mrs. Doubtfire” is playing the same theater where Michael did “Hairspray.” Which brings Michael to tell a horrifying story about mice! You have to hear this for yourself. Vick closes with how the play is really about how far a person will go to be with his family. I’d give anything to see Michael Vick in this role! This interview is another fabulous conversation between two actors who speak the same language.
Michael’s talent as an actor gives him the ability to disappear inside a character. He doesn’t ‘act’ a role, he lives it. Michael once described himself in this fashion: “I’ve got soft features, curly hair with blonde bits and dimples. People think of me as a singer, an entertainer, someone who’s always there with a ready smile.” Oh, but Michael is so much more, and that’s his secret weapon. “I love doing characters that surprise people and showing what I am, which is an actor, first and foremost,” Michael has said. “I love the idea of being on stage and people thinking they know who Michael Ball is, they’ve got an image and then not knowing and going: who’s that? I mean, that’s the best compliment ever.” And – “It is as polar opposite as it comes for the man who was Edna Turnblad in ‘Hairspray’ to come back as Sweeney Todd.” That truly says it all. Polar opposite roles, both brilliantly portrayed, both earning Michael the coveted Olivier Award.
Michael Ball is an extraordinary actor with an extraordinary voice. He learned at a young age what it takes to not only survive in a tough and competitive business, but how to soar. As Michael approaches his final performance in ASPECTS OF LOVE, I find myself wondering what role he will take on next. What character will he step into, making those dimples and curls disappear, transforming himself into an unrecognizable Michael Ball, inspiring the audience to ask once again, “Who’s that?” As Michael so perfectly observed, it’s the greatest compliment an actor can get. The only thing I know for sure is there WILL be another role. There is no expiration date on Michael’s talent or his desire to bring to life a new character on the London stage. It’s his life force. It’s who Michael Ball is.
*CopyrightDeborahFezelle2023* This material is the exclusive property of Deborah Fezelle, Michael Ball and the MBFC.