Different Aspects: A Memoir by Michael Ball: Funny, fascinating and full of Ball’s natural warmth and charm – book review –

Different Aspects: A Memoir by Michael Ball: book reviewDifferent Aspects: A Memoir by Michael Ball: book review
Different Aspects: A Memoir by Michael Ball: book review
‘This is... a biography, not just of me, thank God, but of a musical – a tale of how Aspects of Love, a weird and very wonderful show, has changed my life.’

Take your seats, dim the lights and settle back to enjoy a magical journey alongside much-loved singer, actor, presenter, and now author Michael Ball as he guides us through the thrills and theatrics of what is destined to be one of this year’s most enchanting showbiz memoirs.

This entertaining and revealing memoir is set against the background of two productions of Aspects of Love, the hit show which was first staged at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End in 1989, and which features the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart.

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Ball – who played the lead role of unhappy lover Alex Gillingham, grappling with his insecurities and inner conflicts, in the original run of the show – also appeared in last year’s new production of the show which had a limited run at the Lyric Theatre in London and saw Ball playing Alex’s rich and worldly uncle George Dillingham.

A sweeping romantic story of passion, love, betrayal and heartbreak across three generations, Aspects of Love – based on a 1955 novella by bisexual writer and Bloomsbury Group member David Garnett – explores the family’s awakening to how love, in its many forms, truly does change everything.

And the show’s biggest changes were undoubtedly wrought on the then 27-year-old Michael Ball who has been a star of musical theatre for over three decades now, with seemingly no end to his many talents and enduring popularity.

Back in 1989, the production of Aspects of Love was the first time Ball had worked with legends of the stage like Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn, and it was the smash hit song, Love Changes Everything, that stole the show.

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The song rode high in the charts for fifteen weeks and it was around this time that Ball first met his long-term partner Cathy McGowan – best known as presenter of the 1960s pop music television show Ready Steady Go! – and battled back against the stage fright that had threatened his career.

Over thirty years later, Ball returned to the new production of the same show where he made his name, ‘definitely older, possibly wiser,’ and most definitely with a lifetime’s worth of stories to tell, as this captivating memoir proves.

In Different Aspects, Ball takes us backstage and inside the realities of making of a West End hit, revealing the fun, the joys and the strange stage superstitions, as well as the long hours of hard work and tedium that are part and parcel of the production process.

As he delves back into his memories to explore that moment in his twenties when the world was at his feet and his life changed beyond recognition, Ball also gives readers an account of the pitfalls and pratfalls of modern theatre, and a part exploration of his life, his career and his relationships.

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Different Aspects is not a biography but the story of a life lived on the stage... a story liberally littered with laughter, tears, sweat, some blood, and even cameo appearances by the incomparable Roger Moore.

Funny, fascinating and full of Ball’s natural warmth and charm, this delightful and typically self-deprecating memoir is testament to both the all-round entertainer’s talents... and the likeable man who has made the stage his second home.

(Blink Publishing, paperback, £10.99)

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