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Biography 
Who is Michael Praed and where did he come from?
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Michael Praed as a baby - Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Derrick Prince ©1996 MPNN - © 2005 FanfareActor and singer Michael Praed was born Michael David Prince on April 1, 1960 in Gloucestershire to Derrick and Kay Prince. The couple had one older child at the time, a girl they named Hilary.  Michael spent his babyhood in his birthplace, Berkeley.

When Michael was two, Derrick Prince accepted a position as an accountant for an oil consortium in Iran.  The family moved to Abadan, a city built where the Tigress and Euphrates Rivers form an island.  While there, Michael's younger brother Richard was born.  Michael learned to converse in Farsi along with English in order to speak with his strict, but loving. Iranian nanny. 

Once he reached school age, young Michael attended an Anglo-American primary school built for the children of English and American employees of the oil conglomerate.  The school only accepted children up to the age of eight.  Older students had to be sent to boarding schools.  Michael was sent to England to attend Ascham Preparatory School in Eastbourne, East Sussex, an Edwardian resort city on the English Channel famous for its white chalk cliffs.  Education was a excruciating experience for Michael.  Harsh physical punishment, legal at the time, left him abused and vulnerable.

At the age of 13, Michael went on to Eastbourne College (roughly the equivalent of an American high school, despite its name). 

Two years behind Michael at Eastbourne College was fellow future entertainer Eddie Izzard.  Other Old Eastbournians include Lionel Wilmot Brabazon Rees (famed WWI pilot and winner of the Victoria Cross), retired BBC meteorologist Michael Fish, David Usborne (correspondent for 'The Independent' in New York), and artists Michael J. Clark, Sara Hill, and Paul David Manktelow.  Edward Speleers, another Eastbournian actor, was selected to portray the hotly-contested title role in Christopher Paolini's fantasy film 'Eragon', released in 2006.

School procedure involved strict discipline and a military regimen, complete with forced marches.  The discipline wasn't something Michael enjoyed.  In fact, he loathed it, but he said it did help him develop the self-control necessary to maintain a professional career later.

Michael was far more interested in extracurricular activities than academics.  He thoroughly enjoyed sports. One surprisingly useful sport Michael learned in school was fencing, a skill which served him well in his future career.  Music was his first love, and he sang in the school's choir.  Michael also discovered school plays, where his masters encouraged him to use his impressive tenor singing voice and blossoming acting talent. 

Various photographs of Michael Praed as a teenager. Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Derrick Prince ©1996 MPNN - © 2005 Fanfare

Various photographs of Michael Praed as a teenager
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Derrick Prince
 
©1996 MPNN - © 2005 Fanfare

At the age of 16 Michael took his O-level exams to determine whether he could go on to a college or university. Michael did well, and then had to choose between a livelihood in the Arts or Sciences.

Michael later said "It was then I remembered my father's salient words of advice, which were, 'It doesn't matter what you do for a living, Michael, as long as you pick a profession you absolutely think you're going to enjoy.' My dad was an accountant, and I think what he was guardedly telling me, although I never quizzed him about it, was, 'I wish I had been anything but an accountant.' So I thought, 'Okay, what do I really love?' and the answer was acting."

In 1978 Michael Praed attended the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.  Guildhall alumni include Joseph Fiennes, Claire Bloom, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom, Sir James Galway, Dame Eileen Atkins, Jacqueline du Prť, and Sir George Martin. 

Michael impressed the Guildhall with his musical abilities early, composing music for the student show 'Mac and Beth' his second year there.  Masters tried to get him to switch from drama to music, specifically opera.  Michael resisted, doubting he had the vocal range for the genre.  Alongside his methods classes, he was learning theatre-craft by the straightforward technique of doing it.  He received his Actor's Equity card while still attending drama school.  Michael left the Guildhall before his final year.

Michael's professional career began in July of 1980 at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester. He starred as Jesus in the musical  'Godspell'.  This role was followed by the role of Tom in yet another musical, 'The Knack', also at the Haymarket.  By the fall of 1980 the twenty year old itinerant actor was to be found treading the boards at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton.  Starting out with a new company, he had the less significant role a fairy in 'The Tempest'. 

The next year, 1981, found Michael taking the role of Idle Jack in 'Beauty and the Beast' before putting his musical gifts back to work, serving as musical director and composing music for the company's production of 'The Servant of Two Masters'.  Portraying a gangster in 'The Resistible Rise and Fall of Arturo Ui' followed. 

In his last performance at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, Michael starred as Eddie in 'Leave Him To Heaven', a musical structured around 1950s rock 'n roll songs. 

For the Christmas holidays, Michael originated the role of Gabriel with rising star Maria Friedman as Mary in the musical "Rock Star" at the Civic Theatre in Chesterfield.

Left: 'Godspell' as Jesus Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Derrick Prince  ©1996 MPNN - © 2005 Fanfare, Center: 'The Pirates of Penzance' as Frederick with Tim Curry and Sylvester McCoy ©1982 Photo by ZoŽ Dominic for Dewynters Ltd, Right: 'Robin of Sherwood' as Robin of Loxely ©1983 HTV Goldcrest Films and TV

'Godspell'
as Jesus
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Derrick Prince

 
©1996 MPNN -
© 2005 Fanfare

 

'The Pirates of Penzance'
as Frederick
with Tim Curry and Sylvester McCoy
 ©1982 Photo by ZoŽ Dominic for Dewynters Ltd

 

'Robin of Sherwood'
as Robin of Loxely
 ©1983 HTV Goldcrest Films and TV

Michael Praed's first London appearance was in the lead role of Frederick in Joe Papp's West End original cast production of 'The Pirates of Penzance' with Tim Curry as the Pirate King. Also in the production were Pamela Stephenson, Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, and Louise Gold.  Marking the centenary of the show's debut, May 26, 1982, the operetta ran for a year. Michael and the cast performed Tarantara in 'The Royal Variety Performance' at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on November 8. 1982.

Michael also began making television guest appearances, using both acting and singing talents. Some of the shows involved were: 'The Gentle Touch', 'The Rothko Conspiracy', 'The Professionals', 'Live from Her Majestyís', 'The Entertainers', 'Give Us a Clue', and 'The Hot Shoe Show'.

Left: 'Gentle Touch'  ©1983 ., Right 'The Professionals' as a terrorist ©1983
'Gentle Touch'
as TDC Rogers
©1982 LWT / ITV.
  'The Professionals'
as a terrorist
©1983
LWT / ITV

Playing opposite West End legend Elaine Paige, Michael originated the role of Aladdin in "Abbacadabra", a fairytale musical, the first using compositions by Abba.  Also in the cast was lovely actress Finola Hughes, whom Michael met on a blind date set up by their agent.  The two began a relationship that lasted for seven years.

Writer Richard Carpenter and producer Paul Knight had seen Michael as the swashbuckling hero of 'The Pirates of Penzance' while first coming up with the concept of a new Robin Hood television series with a mystical perspective. They decided Michael had all the qualities they were looking for in Robin Hood: good-looks, athleticism, and an otherworldly air. 'Robin Of Sherwood' first aired on April 28, 1984 on HTV, Michael starring as Robin of Loxley in the title role. With its fine ensemble acting from a talented cast, the show became the best-selling British television series ever produced. Michael Praed became an immediate sensation and was besieged by fans. Its format, (handheld cameras, quick cuts, dramatic lighting, Celtic music, realistic medieval sets and costumes) established by Knight and director Ian Sharp, influenced movie-makers such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and Kevin Costner. In the US, it won the prestigious Jampton Award for 'Excellence in Television and Cable'. The series was shown round the world and gained devoted fans in 55 countries. Twenty years later, fan clubs for the series and its actors are still going strong. Michael left at the end of the second series of three. He left to take the role D'Artagnon on Broadway. He was succeeded by Jason Connery in the role of Robert of Huntingdon.

'The Three Musketeers' a Ziegfeld musical revival at the Broadway Theatre in New York, was beset with problems despite having actors with solid talent such as Michael, Chuck Wagner, Brent Spiner, Ron Taylor, Liz Callaway, and direction by Joe Layton. The lavish show closed after nine performances.

Aaron Spelling, producer of 'Dynasty', the nighttime soap that was the most-watched television show on the planet at the time, cast Michael Praed as Prince Michael of Moldavia. Michael 'survived' the infamous "Moldavian Massacre", the commando raid that disrupted the prince's wedding, but left the glamorous cast after a year.

Michael's next project was the film 'Nightflyers', vaguely based on George R.R. Martin's award winning novella of the same name. The movie was panned, with poor script adaptation and weak special effects cited as the primary reasons.  However, Michael made enough money from the proceeds to build his dream recording studio in the garage of his Los Angeles home. Disenchanted with acting, he decided to try his hand at creating music.  Michael spent the next couple years composing, then producing what eventually became his privately produced album 'For My Friends'.

Left: 'The Three Musketeers' as D'Artagnon ©1985 Martha Swope , Center: 'Dynasty' as Prince Michael of Moldavia ©1985 ABC Inc., Right: 'Nightflyers' as Royd Erris ©1987 The Vista Organization Partnership
'The Three Musketeers'
as D'Artagnon
©1985 Martha Swope
  'Dynasty'
as Prince Michael
of Moldavia
©1985 ABC Inc.
  'Nightflyers'
as Royd Erris
©1987 The Vista Organization Partnership

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