AS A small child Ben Bowman dreamed of stage stardom – but he quit drama college at 17 to concentrate on performing as his long-time hero, the King of Pop.
“At college, they told me I could earn £77 a night in the West End,” he reveals. “So, I quit the course and said ‘I can earn more than that as a Michael Jackson impersonator’.”
Ben wasn’t wrong. He started by booking his own venues but was soon touring the world and performing as his idol at venues such as the London Palladium.
“When I started, I thought it was just something fun that I could do on the side of working,” says the 33-year-old from Kent. “I never imagined I would be a full-time Michael Jackson impersonator – it’s not like it’s something that comes up at the job centre!”
But Ben seems born to do the job. “Me and my brother grew up with my mother’s vinyl collection and Michael Jackson was part of that,” he said. “We especially caught on to him, and even started dressing up as him for fancy dress parties. I became one of those kids who learned all the dances from the videos.
He has now been performing for 14 years and the show, Michael Starring Ben, is a celebration of Michael Jackson’s work. He says he’s proud to keep the musical legacy alive 10 years on from Jackson’s death in June 2009, shortly before he was due to open a 50-night residency with his This Is It show at London’s O2 Arena.
“I love Michael Jackson’s music as much now as when I was five. I listen to his music every week still, away from performing. I can’t imagine my life any other way.”
Michael Starring Ben will be at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking on Thursday, 12 September.
For the full story get the 5 September edition of the News & Mail