BBC RADIO 2: THE MICHAEL BALL SHOW
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2023
The life of an actor is in constant motion. Nothing stays the same. Nothing is permanent. Shows are cast, friends are made, a routine is established, and then … it’s over. You move on to the next venture. So it is with Michael Ball. In the span of only a year, he’s starred in a West End musical, written his autobiography and is now embarking on a solo UK tour. Even his radio show is in constant flux. Different music each week, different guests to interview, different contestants for OTB. The one constant in all of this is who the actor is at heart. The kind of human being he is. And despite what people think, that humanity seeps through in his work, be it on stage or behind a microphone. It’s no accident Michael Ball is beloved by all who work with him. His fellow actors know the man behind the scenes, the actor without his greasepaint.
“Hello, my lovelies. How are you this weekend? Good, I hope. The sun’s shining here.” And with a hearty laugh, Michael checks in for 2 glorious hours on the radio. “I’ve got everything crossed that this last burst of sunshine will make my tomatoes turn from green to red.” Love hearing about the domestic side of him, my favorite being ‘Michael the Gardener.’ And despite the sad saga of the tomatoes, Michael sounds like he’s in a great mood. He has good reason, with so much to celebrate!
On the Ball. The first contestant is Sarah, who says she’s an adrenaline junkie and is about to do a parachute jump. Michael admits to binge-watching a series about David Beckham, which is about football, something he really doesn’t like, but he says it’s fantastic and highly recommends it. Hmm … I’ll have to check it out. Sarah is playing against Keith, her boss. Michael admits to being jealous because he lives in a pub, and he shares Keith’s joy of meeting his first grandchild, saying there’s nothing like spoiling the grandkids. It’s a fun segment, not the usual giggle-fest, but highly entertaining.
In comes Orna, who Michael calls his little ray of Sunday sunshine. Because of the heavy rains in Scotland, the segment has a serious overtone, as it should. Michael ends the first segment by saying he had a dream that in 3 weeks time all the UK roadwork will be finished. Right. Dream on, Michael! When Orna returns later in the show they discuss ghosts. Orna’s a believer, and they have quite a giggle about a moment from their past, which neither describe, unfortunately!
Michael’s first guest is young Holly who has leukemia and has been helped by Jack’s Den, a Children in Need charity. Jack was a child who died of cancer, and the charity was set up to honor him and to help others. Holly speaks of how Jack’s Den gave her normality, something to look forward to, some fun in her life. How lovely of Michael to focus on these charities and to continue to promote BBC Children in Need. And what a sweetie Holly is!
Michael’s next guest is not only iconic, she’s also an old dear friend of his. When it comes to talent, I see Lea Salonga as the female equivalent of Michael Ball. They are both phenomenal actors who are capable of making me weep like a baby or leap to my feet with a full-throttled “Bravo!” when they sing. Ms. Salonga is currently starring in STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S OLD FRIENDS in the West End, running through January 6, 2024. Known as “The Pride of the Philippines,” Lea rose to international fame at the age of 18 when she starred as Kim in MISS SAIGON in both the West End & on Broadway, winning both the Olivier and the Tony Award for “Best Actress in a Musical.” She’s been the voice of 2 Disney cartoon princesses. She’s played both Eponine and Fantine in LES MISERABLES on Broadway, and she sang the role of Eponine opposite Michael who reprised his role of Marius in the 10th anniversary concert. Lea Salonga’s credits and awards could fill pages! I saw her in MISS SAIGON a few nights after she opened on Broadway, and her brilliant performance lived with me for weeks. Michael and Lea greet each other warmly and with laughter. “I love you. I adore you,” Michael says. “I’ve worked with you since the 10th Anniversary show. I came to see you in OLD FRIENDS on opening night – having done the show earlier – and it was “Show biz in a bucket, seeing everyone at the top of their game.” IOW, Michael loved it! They talk about Bernadette Peters and Stephen Sondheim. And of course they discuss OLD FRIENDS. Michael is effusive in his praise, singling out particular songs Lea sings. Lea says there are no stars, that they all drive the show. She seems to possess much of the humility that we love about Michael. She praises the UK audiences and can’t single out a moment in the show that she loves most. Michael and Lea speak in their own language, they compare stories and discuss the theater in general. We’re a fly on the wall eavesdropping as two mega-stars discuss their lives on the stage. DO NOT MISS THIS CONVERSATION! It’s one for ‘The Michael Ball Show’ record books. Lea Salonga & Michael Ball are legends, their accolades earned through talent, discipline and hard work. Musical theater and acting students will study their performances for generations to come, their names forever etched in the history books of London’s West End and New York City’s Broadway. In closing, Michael plays Lea singing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from GYPSY. Chills upon chills upon chills …
Michael’s last guests are Morgan and his mum Nikki. The Amelia Trust Farm is a charitable organization that helps disadvantaged young people. It’s also a public attraction with parks and animals and spaces, including bunkhouses that can be rented. The farm was a beacon for Morgan when he was 13, when he was having trouble in school. At that young age he had the courage to tell his mom, and together they found the Amelia Farm. He now works at the farm, which has given him a focus and has taught him discipline. **My internet connection went down briefly at the end of this interview, so I apologize if I missed anything important.**
Once again, Michael’s 2 hours zipped by too fast. But what an extraordinary show!
The coming year should be a winner for Michael Ball. With the release of his memoir DIFFERENT ASPECTS later this week, Michael’s fans will learn a great deal about the legendary actor/singer, details of his work ethic, how he approaches a role, how he feels about the people who have shaped his career, how he keeps his performances fresh night after night. Plus, we’ll get a glimpse of the multi-layered man on the other side of the footlights, the man with the ready laugh, the guy who found his life-partner quite accidentally during a routine interview for ASPECTS OF LOVE. And then in March, Michael will return to the concert stage, his second home, to bring his musicality and heart to audiences across the UK. He will make you cry and he’ll make you laugh. And he’ll have you dancing in the aisles when he gets the party going late in the night. Oh, yes, THAT Michael Ball is about to bound back onstage, microphone in hand, and bedazzle you once again. Good times are ahead for Michael Ball. And for all of us.
*CopyrightDeborahFeezelle2023* This material is the exclusive property of Deborah Fezelle, Michael Ball & the MBFC.