We have all heard of Michael Ball haven’t we? Yes? Good! Well in my opinion I think he’s over-rated. I agree he has a fantastic voice but his vocal range is a bit limited.
There are many west end performers who have been around for a while yet get zero credit. Two of my favourites are as follows……
This guy here…..you don’t recognise him? I didn’t think so! this is John Owen Jones.
I adore musical theatre and I have to admit that like many until the end of 2009 I had not heard of John Owen Jones either!
John Owen Jones in my opinion is a musical theatre god and has the best voice in the west end beating the likes of the well known Michael Ball by miles, yet he never gets the recognition he disserves.
John’s early theatre days
In 1994 he graduated from The Central School of Speech and drama with a BA (Hons) in acting. He starred in “A little night music” in 1995 alongside the legend Dame Judy Dench. He became the youngest actor ever to take the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables at the age of 26 in 1997, also appearing in the 1995 10th anniversary concert of the show. The Manchester Evening News even went so far as to describe his performance as “a truly astonishing achievement that must be one of the greatest stage performances of all time.” He has also been voted the Best Ever Les Miserables Performer and Best Ever Jean Valjean in a worldwide online poll by fans of the show.
In 2001 he changed theatre roles and played The Phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera” becoming the west ends longest running phantom ever after a whopping 1,400 performances!
In June 2005 he decided to return to Les Miserables where he joined the 2005 cast once again reprising the challenging role of Jean Valjean in the west end and at a later date joining the cast in America on Broadway.
I was fortunate enough to see him twice in the 2009-2010 25th anniversary touring production of Les Mis also starring Earl Carpenter as Javert and Gareth Gates as Marius. The tour sold out in all 10 venues…getting tickets as like finding gold dust..almost impossible.
He appeared on Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night with Shona Lindsay, Jacinta Whyte and Les Mis co star Gareth Gates celebrating the 25th anniversary of Les Miserables. It was really incredible, I loved John&Gareth’s duet “River in the Rain” from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” Their voices blended so well with John’s powerful voice and Gareth’s slightly more feminine yet filled with emotion and stunning!
After the tour finished he featured in the 25th anniversary concert DVD of Les Mis as part of “The Valjean quartet” in my opinion he is far superior to Alfie Boe who played the role in the concert, although he has a great voice he isn’t right for Jean Valjean…his voice is too operatic! (okay he is a tenor opera singer) but the role should be played by someone with a more “theatre style” voice but not enough in my opinion.
He announced that he would be returning to Phantom of The Opera in November 2010! I was so excited and I received tickets for last Christmas as both my mum and I are fans.
Other theatre credits include Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at the National Theatre along with Judi Dench, Patricia Hodge and Siân Phillips: The Ladies Paradise at the RNT Studio: The Pirates of Penzance and Much Ado About Nothing at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre: The Boys from Syracuse: Herr Zeller in The Sound of Music and Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat.
In my opinion he is far better than Michael Ball with a far greater vocal range yet he never gets the recognition he disserves. This year sees him continuing with Phantom of the Opera but this time in the UK 2012 tour with a different cast. Even though he gets fantastic reviews I still thinks he should get more credit !
Ok here is the second guy…..
Steve Balsamo he’s also Welsh
Steve Balsamo is a singer/ songwriter from Swansea in Wales. He became successful as a thetre performer as playing the title role of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar in the West End revival in 1997. He has a whopping 3.5 octave vocal range wow !
It was his version of the song “Gethsemane” which impressed me massivley. This song showcased his phoenominal vocal range as the song goes from Tenor to Falsetto (VERY high! for a man) I love the emotion he portrays. The song made me cry the first time that I watched it on Youtube, its the fact that he puts so much anger and passion into the song! it gives you goosebumps and then makes the hairs s I only wish that I could have seen him live !!
After winning a Variety Club Award for the role, Steve decided to return to his first love – writing and performing his own music – and signed to Columbia Records soon after. In 2002 Steve released his debut album – All I Am – which reached the top 40 in the UK. He then went on to win Best Male Solo Artist at The Welsh Music Awards the same year.
I am actually so shocked that he hasn’t had many theatre roles since then. There was a rumour that he is going to be part of the judging panel for ITV 1′ s new talent contest “Superstar”- the new television search for a new Jesus to star in an arena tour revamp of the show. I hope it’s true but I’ll have to wait and see before getting my hopes up too high !
This has turned into another extremely random blog post but it cannot be helped ! I LOVE musical theatre !