For almost three decades, Michael Ball has walked the boards of the West End and Broadway, as well as appearing on television and releasing several successful albums. Born in Bromsgrove, Ball attended drama school and, soon after he left in 1984, his big break came when he was cast as Frederic in Cameron Macintosh's production of The Pirates of Penzance. His next big role was when Macintosh added him to the cast of Les Miserables; during which Ball began to suffer from anxiety attacks. To relieve the pressure, Macintosh moved Ball from Les Mis. to another successful musical, taking over from Michael Crawford in The Phantom of the Opera. And from this role his stage career took off. In 1993 Ball released his first album, taking the role of Tony in a recording of West Side Story with the Philharmonic Orchestra. His second album Always, went straight in at Number 3 in the UK charts and his fifth album in 1996 , First Love, went gold. Since the release of his debut album, Ball has achieved the rarely successful cross-over from stage to recording to television (he had his won show). He still returns to stage and played Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Edna Turnblad in Hairspray (winning the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical).