Last updated: 24 March 2009
Actor, singer and songwriter Steve Balsamo was highly acclaimed for his starring West End role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar.
He was born in Wales on 19 May 1971, to a Venetian father and a Welsh mother. He later described the mix as "a great recipe for a singing child".
After being dismissed from his school choir after being told he could not sing, Balsamo studied painting at art college. At the age of 17 he took up singing once more, and began songwriting.
Balsamo performed in a number of pubs and clubs, while working in a range of menial jobs to support himself. Although he was offered a place at Bristol University to study graphic art, he instead joined a local music college.
It was at the college that he took the role of Jesus in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The part proved to be a turning point in his fortunes, and sparked a love for musical theatre.
At the age of 21 he moved to London and landed a role in Les Misérables. "It was a bit of a culture shock for me," he later said. "I'm more of a pints man than a tights man, and couldn't get my head round the whole experience. I came from playing with bands in clubs, and the whole theatrical thing was completely alien to me. But even though I hated it, I now realise I had to go down that route."
Although he still wanted to be a singer-songwriter, Balsamo began attending a Cardiff workshop for unemployed musicians run by the Prince's Trust. His talents were spotted, and he was asked to open the Masters of Music Concert in Hyde Park in 1996, which was headlined by The Who, Alanis Morrisette, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.
Around this time Balsamo was told that Andrew Lloyd Webber was searching for a performer to play the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar. Although he had no experience in the West End, he won the role to great acclaim. A memorable newspaper headline proclaimed: "The Son of God is Welsh".
During one televised performance of the show he reduced Lloyd Webber to tears, and within half an hour had helped sell £160,000 worth of tickets.
The role in Superstar led to a record deal with Columbia, and in 2002 released two singles and an album. However, they were not great commercial successes and he was dropped soon after.
The experience didn't deter the ever-persistent Balsamo, and he formed a band with friends from Wales. The Storys released their self-titled debut album in October 2005.
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