Typecasting is annoying. A friend and old coworker would often vent about how she got stuck with the shiny shimmery roles because of her Barbie-like looks. I got tired of seeing her in them night after night, production after production. It was a nice change of pace to see her as a slutty queen B in Mono far from the directors that often cast her as the “dutiful daughter” like Viola in 12th Night. I appreciate actors who can shed the tears, draw laughter, and don’t stick themselves in a box, sometimes to the chagrin of fellow theatre folk.
Since 1993 I’ve enjoyed Michael Ball’s capabilities, whether acting or singing. From a distance I’ve watched him grow as an artist- London’s a bit far for me. The past few years he’s been snubbed by the “theatre elite” because of his career choices. Kismet‘s revival bombed because of bad decisions by the director and big boss producer, not the cast’s. Now Michael is West End’s newest leading lady, Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. In an article from the Times, he says the show is “left-field, and really clever, and brilliantly realised on stage”.
Props to Michael for doing something different and saying that “people only talk about safe musical choices because they haven’t done their research”. I have a wide variety of shows and albums that Michael’s done because they don’t bore me. The dramatic Les Misérables and Aspects of Love may be long time favourites, but Michael does rock & roll, gospel, and comedy just as well. I love his rendition of “Walking in Memphis” and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is just plain fun.
The pretty boy who originated the roles of Marius and Alex in the 80’s is now 45. He grew up, it happens. Michael says middle age is “fantastic, because it opens up the scope of what you can play”. He knows he’s older and fatter. Will the directors, producers, and public ever realize he can do more than break hearts and sing about how “Love Changes Everything”?