Last updated: 08 December 2010
Olivier award-winning Michael Ball is one of Britain's leading musical stars, who has dominated the stages of Broadway and London's West End during his career and has gained acclaim as a solo recording artist.
He was born in Bromsgrove, England on 27 June 1962 to an English father and Welsh mother. Having joined a youth theatre in his teens, Ball trained at the Guildford School of Acting and graduated in 1984.
Early stage roles in 1984 came in Godspell in Aberystwyth and as Frederic in The Pirates Of Penzance in Manchester before he gained his first big break; he was cast as Marius in Cameron Mackintosh's production of Les Misérables at the Palace Theatre, London in 1985.
Ball played the role of young lover Raoul in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom Of The Opera in 1987 and between 1989 and 1990 he portrayed Alex Dillingham in Aspects Of Love in both London and New York.
Such prominent musical roles established Ball's reputation as he embarked on a parallel career as a recording artist.
In 1992 he represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest with One Moment In Time, finishing in second place. Following this success the song reached number one in the UK singles charts, and his self-titled debut solo album, Michael Ball, also achieved the same feat in the album charts.
Further albums, and subsequent nationwide tours, followed with the releases of Always (1993), One Careful Owner (1994) and The Best of Michael Ball (1994).
1996 saw the release of his fifth album, First Love, and he also returned to the stage in Stephen Sondheim's musical Passion at the Queen's Theatre in London, playing Giorgio. He left in the autumn and released another album, Michael Ball: The Musicals (1996).
His 1998 release The Movies achieved platinum disc status just six weeks after its release, and further albums In Concert At The Royal Albert Hall (1999) Christmas (1999) and This Time... It's Personal (2000) were supported with UK tours in 1999 and 2000.
In 2002 Ball once again returned to the stage, as Caractucus Potts in the Sherman Brothers' Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium. After nearly a year and a half in the role he recorded A Love Story (2003), and nationwide tours followed in 2003 and 2005 before he once more returned to the West End.
He replaced Michael Crawford, who had to withdraw due to poor health, as Count Fosco in The Woman In White at the Palace Theatre. He also played the role at the Marquis Theatre, New York.
2007 saw another tour of the UK and a role with the English National Opera; he played the role of Hajj in the production of Kismet. In October 2007 Hairspray opened to critical acclaim in London, with Ball playing the part of Edna Turnblad.
In March 2008 he claimed the Olivier award for best actor in a musical for his role as Edna, a part he continued to perform until July 2009. In September and October 2009 he embarked on a UK-wide tour in conjunction with the release of new album, Past and Present: The Very Best Of Michael Ball, which was released in March 2009.
Ball reprised the role of Edna in a series of further Hairspray shows in 2010, which kicked off at the Wales Millennium Centre in March 2010. He combined the performances with a role of associate producer.
From Maria to the Phantom, how Welsh stars have brought song to the stage.