Musicals

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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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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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!

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The anticipation for US fans is over – I’m thrilled to be able to tell you that Alfie and Michael will bring their Ball and Boe Together show to the New York City Center venue for one night only – May 23 2017! Tickets available here!

Their album Together was the top selling UK release of 2016 and went on to become the Christmas Number 1 and has 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.

Here they are on the UK tour last year:

Buy two tickets to the show – click here – and you’ll get a copy of the album included! The album was recorded in New York last year and you might see some NYC locations in the official video!

 

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…in Korean!  This was his one off appearance in Seoul, Korea and he sang a varied programme of classical, opera and musical theatre – and one song in Korean.  I understand the song is traditional but I have no idea what they are singing about!  The audience, soprano and conductor all seem very impressed though and his pronunciation seems, to my untutored ear) in time with the soprano:

The second song is one of my favourites from Alfie’s operatic repertoire, Brindisi from La Traviata.  Alfie looks as if he is enjoying this rare venture into operatic waters although I think he may have wanted to dance at one point and the dress had other ideas!

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Last week I gave you my top Six Sensational Songs from Alfie Boe and asked for your nominations – I was deluged with them!  Thank you to everyone who sent in their six (it is possible to choose just six!) and in no particular order, the first set was chosen by Betty Valentine.  This is what Betty had to say about when and where she was Boed:

I started following Alfie in early 2011 when, like a lot of us on this side of the Atlantic, I saw him in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables on PBS. I was blown away by his voice and stage presence and actually travelled to London that fall to see him live in the West End. Since then I have followed his career, collected his music and have seen him live twice more.

Betty’s six songs are:

In My Daughter’s Eyes, chosen because, as Betty says “the song always makes me think of my deceased parents”. If you are either a daughter or a mother of a daughter then this song can’t fail to move you.

Betty chose Come What May because of the “romantic sentiments of long lasting love” – and I chose this video because I love Laura Wright and because Alfie makes me laugh in it!

In Betty’s words, she picked this song because not only is it beautiful, “the melody and the words… form a beautiful poem of thanksgiving for nature and our world”.  A lot of you agree as Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna made it all the way to the number two position in our very first Best Ever Alfie Boe Song poll in 2014.

Recondita Armonia was chosen to highlight Alfie’s operatic talent and I chose this video as it’s a great excuse to see Matt and Alfie again!

A Living Prayer and Abide With Me were both chosen for their beauty and also, for the “healing and comfort derived from them in difficult times”.

Thank you Betty for sharing your Six Senational Songs with us.

If you would like to share your six favourite songs with us, please send them (and your reasons why) in this form:

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Last week I asked you a few questions about Alfie Boe in 2016 – how did you get on?  Remember, you’re playing for pride, not prizes!

Q:  With which product did Alfie make his TV commercial debut in 2016?

A: Fisherman’s Friend – the ad is now playing again on UK TV.

Q: At which football team’s ground did Alfie sing the National Anthem in 2016?

A: His home town of Fleetwood.

Q: How many dates were there on the 2016 Together tour?

A: 29 – Blackpool was the 29th, added during the first Blackpool date.

Q: Name Alfie’s three opera heroes from the Spring radio 2 show.

A: Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas and Mario Lanza.

Q: What was special about 12th November 2016?

A: Alfie was in two places at once – or, to be accurate, he was on TV at the Festival of Remembrance, recorded earlier that evening, and live at the London Palladium.

Q: Which actress and singer featured as a guest artist on Ball and Boe: One Night Only?

A: Maria Friedman, singing a brilliant Being Alive / Chitty Chitty Bang Bang mash up.

Q: Alfie will play which role in Carousel in 2017?

A: Billy Bigelow.

Q: Katherine Jenkins will play Julie Jordan; where will she sing with Alfie before that?

A: Dubai at the White Nights festival.

Q: Which song was voted the fans favourite in 2016?

A: Love Reign O’er Me:

Q: Which two songs featured in Alfie’s solo section of the Together tour?

A: Keep Me In Your Heart and Love Reign O’er Me (no prizes for guessing why I chose this video!):

Thanks to Linda W for sharing.

How did you all get on? Ten out of ten for everyone, right?

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