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Less than a month to go until American fans get the chance to see Alfie Boe and Michael Ball live in concert for one night only! The UK’s biggest selling artists of 2016, who scored the Christmas number one album no less, are appearing at the New York City Center on May 23 for one night only – tickets are still available, albeit going fast, so click here to ensure you don’t miss out.  Introduce a friend to the music of Ball and Boe – get two tickets and you get a copy of Together thrown in!

The duo have many US fans and are thrilled to have the opportunity to perform songs from Together – who knows, they might sing something that features on the next album! Alfie in particular, has ‘test driven’ a number of songs before recording in recent years.

So why New York you might ask.  One answer might be that both Michael and Alfie have appeared on Broadway and are well known by audiences there; furthermore, their chart topping album, Together, was recorded there last year. Alfie first appeared on Broadway way back in 2002 as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrman’s La Boheme; at the time, an operatic career beckoned and was duly embarked upon for the next few years before the life changing 25th anniversary concert of Les Mis came along.  It was Les Mis that brought Alfie back to Broadway in 2015, taking over from fellow Les Mis 25th star Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean for a five month run – he handed over to John Owen-Jones who was part of the Valjean quartet at Les Mis 25.  Following on from that, Alfie went into a short stint in Finding Neverland.

Michael’s first Broadway role was in 1990 when he originated Alex in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love (he also originated the role in London).   Then came a break of fifteen years whilst concert, TV and UK based theatre work took precedence although when he did return, in 2005, it was to two productions in quick succession – the first was for New York City Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience.  The role that took him back to a Broadway musical was Count Fosco in The Woman in White, again for Andrew Lloyd Webber.

For two such amazing voices, the set list for this concert could be endless, such is the variety of their repertoire but I would suggest that two songs guaranteed to make the final list are their most famous songs and ones that have been sung at almost every concert the pair have ever given: Bring Him Home and Love Changes Everything.

Bring Him Home as part of Les Mis Medley  – first night of the UK tour 2016:

Love Changes Everything:

If you’re looking to make the concert that extra bit more special, VIP meet and greet tickets are available too – click here.

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Last week we saw the first of our two new entrants to the top ten in the 2017 Best Alfie Boe Song poll and this week sees our second new entrant; funnily enough, both newbie songs are from the same album, Alfie:

Despite Wheels of a Dream being one of Alfie’s most performed songs, dating back to the Bring Him Home tour, it’s one of his most popular, as attested to here by the sharp intake of breath on this video when we hear the first few notes.  Fans also like the lyrics of this song, seeing as Alfie lives in America and has a wife named Sarah!

The song is taken from the 1996 musical, Ragtime which opened on Broadway in 1998 and in the West End in 2003, netting an Olivier Award for Maria Friedman in the process – Maria featured in 2016’s Ball and Boe TV show.  Here are the original Ragtime stars, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald:

Stay tuned for number 7 next week!

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Make it a night to remember with Alfie Boe and Michael Ball at their only US concert on May 23 2017! VIP tickets are now available from VIP Nation – you’ll meet and greet Alfie and Michael and have the opportunity for a photo as well as watch the show from rows 3 – 10.

Click here to buy

Their album Together was the top selling UK release of 2016 and went on to become the Christmas Number 1 and recently returned to the top ten of the UK chart. Together is a compilation of musical theatre and popular classics including a Les Miserables medley, Somewhere, Music of the Night, When You Wish Upon a Star, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Speak Softly Love and For Once in My Life.

Other tickets are available here.

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Those of you who do Facebook might be aware that after the press night of Carousel, I decided to do a spontaneous Facebook live video to tell you all about it.  It went well and you all seemed to like it and so I wanted to share it with those of my readers who don’t do Facebook:

Bear in mind that this was a live video so I was able to respond to viewers as the comments were coming in – and if you like comedy cats as well as Alfie Boe, this might well be the video for you!  Click here for the written review of Carousel.

This is my first foray into the world of vlogging and I’d love your feedback – leave me a comment with your thoughts and I’d also love to know if there’s any other vloggers that you watch.

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Last week saw a song from the earlier part of Alfie’s career that he thankfully resurrected for live performances in 2015 – Parlami D’Amore Mariu.  This week, we’re looking at the song that came in at number nine in the 2017 Best Ever Alfie Boe Song poll and is from his second Decca album, Alfie:

In My Daughter’s Eyes is a new entry to the top ten this year – it’s been on the long list since the first poll in 2014 but has never before garnered enough votes to feature in the top ten.  Written by James T Slater for Martina McBride’s 2003 Martina album, the song became an essential part of Alfie’s set list between 2011 and 2013.  In some of the many interviews Alfie gave around the release of Alfie in 2011, he said that he chose the song for his daughter, Grace, as he had already chosen Song to the Siren for his son, also Alfie and for whom the album is named (Alfred Robert was born on New Year’s Day the following year).   Besides being a beautiful song, I think it holds a special resonance to anyone who is or has a daughter – always makes me think of my dad and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.  Here is Martina McBride:

Alfie is available here:

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If you celebrate Easter as a religious festival or just enjoy eating chocolate eggs, this time of year is a happy one.  Alfie is of course in London at the moment, appearing in Carousel – making this a very time of year for those of use lucky enough to see his wonderful performance.

As most fans will be aware, Alfie is from a strong Christian background and has often spoken of his faith and what it means to him.  He has also released a CD, Onward, which showcases Alfie singing hymns and spiritual songs.  One such, is A Living Prayer, three times voted into the top ten of Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Song:

This is taken from one of Alfie’s appearances on Songs of Praise, along with Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring:

Onward is available here:

Have a very happy and Blessed Easter

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I’ve got a confession – I have never before last night seen either the film or a production of Carousel, although I had a fair idea of the synopsis and some of the staging in the current production at ENO, not to mention most of the songs. This lack of prior knowledge meant that I came to Carousel almost entirely free of preconceptions about the show.  Having said that, prior knowledge would have prepared me for the huge amount of dialogue in the show – modern musicals tend to have very little spoken word in them and I’d forgotten that older shows don’t just rely on the music to carry the show.  Indeed, it is the dialogue that is integral to the storyline here.

The role of Billy Bigelow is Alfie Boe’s third musical theatre role in short succession (but his first in a newly opened show, albeit in a short, five week run) and his first appearance at ENO for over six years.  Alfie is on stage for most of the show and copes effortlessly with the physicality of the role, particularly in the soliloquy, which involves singing whilst using the whole of the stage, ladders included.  As you might expect, Alfie’s glorious tenor voice is a delight; soaring vocals when necessary, tender and soft when the music requires, yet blending in perfectly on the ensemble numbers.  Alfie has recorded If I Loved You and if I’m honest, I’ve never really liked his version because I felt that despite the beautiful vocals, there was no emotion behind the words.  It is a totally different experience to hear Alfie sing the song in this production – the emotion, especially in the second act reprise, bursts out.  You are left in no doubt as to how Billy feels and that is down to the acting.

As mentioned earlier, Carousel is Alfie’s third musical theatre show in a short time but since both of those were on Broadway, this was my first opportunity to see Alfie in an acting role on stage.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The vocal demands are all in the first act and I felt Alfie relaxed into the role more as the show went on.  However, the characterisation of Billy was always totally believable and although there were moments when Alfie seemed almost awkward, I felt that was part of the character; Billy, as we understand from the opening dream sequence, is an awkward character who has not had the easiest start in life and it would be wrong, in my view, to have him portrayed as someone who is happy in own skin.  Anger is an emotion that is never far from Billy, always bubbling under the surface and Alfie plays this to perfection – he’s on a knife edge the whole time which lends an air of unpredictability that is central to both the character and the storyline.

Billy’s relationship with Julie Jordan is the the plot driver in Carousel and the role of Julie carries high expectations.  Katherine Jenkins makes her stage debut here and honestly, you wouldn’t know it. At no time did I feel I was watching an actress who had never performed in a stage musical before. In Katherine’s hands you felt that there was no other way for Julie to behave – of course she would run off with an unemployed carousel barker and inexorably start down the road of unhappiness.   The difficult relationship between the two lead roles is fully explored, with Billy going from the confident barker to an angry husband who resorts to domestic violence and Julie doing her best to save and reform him.  The violence is not shown on stage but much more powerfully, it is the constant belittling of Julie by Billy that remains with the audience and you understand just what compels women in Julie’s position to stay in such relationships.  Integral to this sensitive portrayal was the cracking chemistry between Alfie and Katherine which made the relationship believable.  Both were outstanding.

In addition, the whole cast and ENO chorus were sublime, with Alex Young as Carrie and Brenda Edwards as Nettie being in especially fine form.  Nicholas Lyndhurst’s role is tiny but pivotal to the plot and he displays his mastery of comic timing (Alfie also uses his natural gift for comic timing throughout) to devastating effect.  However, the laughter that greeted Lyndhurst perched on a ladder has possibly nothing to do with Carousel and everything to do with his previous incarnation as Rodney.  Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote some wonderful tunes for this show and the ENO orchestra make the most of them, beautifully conducted by David Charles Abell (yes from the 25th Les Mis concert).

Carousel is a show that I think will stay with me for a long time and not just because Alfie Boe stars.  Both he and Katherine Jenkins were outstanding but it is the overall story of redemption that sticks with you.   Does redemption mean that our earlier deeds are forgiven?  Perhaps yes, but not forgotten.  During the finale, having achieved his aim, there is nothing left for Billy but to disappear from the scene and it is entirely fitting that we are left with the happy ensemble.

Carousel is on at the London Coliseum until May 13 – tickets are available here and I urge you to go – you won’t regret it.

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The first song in the 2017 countdown takes us back to the earlier part of Alfie’s career, with the only representative from La Passione to make the list, Parlami D’amore Mariu:

This song featured in the first Best Ever Alfie Boe Song poll and came in there at number six – since then it hasn’t featured at all, possibly as we have seen a distinct move away from Alfie’s classical repertoire in the three poll since then.

Written for a film soundtrack, Gli Uomini Che MascalzoniParlami D’amore Mariu was written in 1932 by Cesare Andrea Bixio and Ennio Neri for the voice of Vittorio De Sica and translated, means “Tell Me That You Love Me”.  The original sounds like a film soundtrack but the most well know version is of course in the neapolitan style here sung by Giuseppe Di Stefano:

There are many other artists I could have chosen, including recently, Jonas Kauffman, but I chose this one as Alfie has previously mentioned Di Stefano as a favourite artist to listen to.

If you don’t yet have La Passione in your collection, it’s available here:

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Welcome to the third in thoughtsofjustafan’s occasional series, Alfie Boe’s Six Sensational Songs.  So far, you’ve seen my pick and that of Betty Valentine and now it’s the turn of Cathy Haley, an Alfie fan who has been with this blog almost since it started!  Here, Cathy tell us how she came to be Boe’d:

I started following Alfie in the spring of 2011. Like most of his North American fans, I saw him on PBS. It was a repeat broadcast of the 25th Les Mis concert and I had always been a huge Les Mis fan. We had seen the show twice with Michael Burgess and the CD with the original cast was played a lot in our house. So, I watched parts of the PBS broadcast and was taken with the fact that the JVJ was being played by someone who must be an opera singer. I looked him up the next day and was smitten. I spent a lot of time listening to radio interviews with him and watching YouTube. I laugh about it because I haven’t been a fan like that of anyone since I loved the Beatles in the early 60’s. I saw him live in Toronto 2012 which was the last stop on his North American tour during the tail end of a hurricane.
Last year, I travelled to NYC to see him on Broadway in Les Mis. As for the songs I chose, they are combinations of his power and his ability to sing softly with beauty. Most of them are very romantic.

Thanks Cathy – a lot of us start our ‘how we found Alfie’ stories with Les Mis!

Here are Cathy’s six songs:

Wheels of a Dream, chosen because “is the perfect vehicle for his voice since it really builds to a crescendo.”

Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna, chosen as “it has a lovely melody and is a folk song that has been given a classical treatment. Alfie’s voice is crystalline in the recording and not as deep as his present voice.”

Addio Sogni Di Gloria, chosen “again this has a great melody and the lows and highs that highlight his singing”.

Song to the Siren, from Alfie, and in recorded form, a duet with Robert Plant, long a musical idol for Alfie.  Cathy says ” I heard him sing it live in Toronto in 2012. He started off-stage with it and it was eerily beautiful.”

Parlami D’Amore Mariu, from La Passione.  This video shows the beauty of Alfie’s voice but also his cheeky sense of humour!

My Heart is Yours, from Serenata, chosen, in part, because ” it’s a romantic ballad and shows that he doesn’t have to always power out a song. I think that my favourites always have a melody that I am taken with. I am a huge classical fan and like any thing he sings of that genre”.

Thank you Cathy for sharing your Six Sensational Songs with us – so far, we have had only one song, Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna, chosen by two people, although Cathy did mention that were she permitted a seventh song, You Are My Heart’s Delight is pretty near perfect.

If you would like to see your six songs featured, fill in the form below:

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Voting has now closed in the 2017 Best Ever Alfie Boe song poll and the following playlist contains the top ten:

 

In 2016, the top ten looked like this:

1 – Love Reign O’er Me
2 – Dimming of the Day
3 – Trust
4 – Bring Him Home
5 – First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
6 – My Heart is Yours
7 – It’s Over
8 – A Living Prayer
9 – If You Go Away
10 – Forever Young

The first thing that strikes me about this year’s list is that there is only one song from Alfie’s most successful commercial album, Together – whether this has anything to do with it not being a solo album, I couldn’t say.

In contrast to previous years, Bring Him Home is now the only song to feature in every top ten, with just two more songs featuring in two top ten countdowns.  In addition to Anthem, there are two more new entries in Wheels of a Dream and In My Daughter’s Eyes.  This means that for the first time, A Living Prayer drops out of the top ten.

Last year we saw a definite move away from Alfie’s classical repertoire towards the rockier albums and 2017 continues in the same vein, albeit this time we are seeing a resurgence in the musical theatre songs.  I can definitely see the influence of Together in these choices – it seems that hearing Alfie sing a lot of musical theatre songs in recent months, as well as his appearance in Carousel has prompted more votes for this genre of music.  Trust remains the strongest album over all the polls so far, with Alfie having two tracks and one each for Bring Him Home, Classic Quadrophenia, Storyteller, Serenata, Together and La Passione.

Stay tuned for next week’s reveal of number 10 – we’ll be counting down until the beginning of the summer tour!

Thanks for reading and sharing

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xx