Micheal Ball's best collection of show tunes to date
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 02/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Michael Ball created the role of Alex Dillingham in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Aspects of Love," which meant he was the first to record "Love Changes Everything." As a singer-actor Ball appeared in West End productions of "Les Miserables" and "Phantom of the Opera," but has predominantly become a recording artist and concert performing. After his 1998 album "Musicals" and came out with "Centre Stage" in 2001, which offers another exploration of the songs of Broadway. This album is the better of the two and that might owe as much to the song selection as it does to the additional three years of experience singing such songs. There is a trio of Lloyd Webber songs, with a duet of "Phantom of the Opera" with Lesley Garrett setting up "The Music of the Night," just as it does in the show, and a surprisingly sedate version of "Tell Me on a Sunday." Stephen Sondheim pops up twice with "Not While I'm Around" and "Send in the Clowns." Actually there is quite a bit of pop on the album which opens with a pair of tracks from Elton John-Tim Rice shows and has songs by ABBA and the Bee Gees that made it to Broadway efforts based on their work. But the songs that really stand out on this album tend to be from the next generation of Broadway song writers, "The Boy From Nowhere" from "Matador," "Seasons of Love" from "Rent," and "Tell Me It's Not True" from "Blood Brothers." If you get the feeling that Ball sings more as himself and not as the characters and that his singing reflects a more British sensibility than you are accustomed to hearing in American musical theater, I would not disagree. But taken on those terms this is a solid collection of show tunes."