All posts tagged Carousel

Alfie and Michael entered the UK album chart at number one! An amazing achievement for the pair and also for all of you for going out and buying it in your thousands – the most albums bought by one person (that I saw) was ten!  Anyone bought more than that?

Ball and Boe’s first album, Together, also re-entered the album chart at number 36 which is perfectly timed for this week’s Alfie Boe Best Live Song which comes from that album:

You’ll Never Walk Alone at Eastnor Castle was nominated by Pauline Merrick and was the encore performance for both the 2017 summer concerts and the 2016 Together tour.  The song was chosen in part as a tribute to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster and the song was received incredibly emotionally when sung in Liverpool.  Alfie and Michael also performed this at the 2016 Festival of Remembrance.

Despite it’s undoubted footballing connotations in the UK, the song is of course originally from the 1945 musical, Carousel, which Alfie appeared in earlier this year.  However, Alfie’s character, Billy Bigelow doesn’t get to sing this song and it was a pleasure to hear Brenda Edwards’ Nettie sing it in the ENO production.

You’ll Never Walk Alone has been recorded many times but for us in the UK, the most famous version is that of Gerry and the Pacemakers from 1963:

Although it was the Together version that was nominated, I couldn’t resist including a video of Alfie singing this at the VE Day celebrations in 2015, as it was the first time he sang this for a long time:

Thank you again for supporting Alfie and Michael to the number one position – if you want to see an exclusive video from the boys then make sure you subscribe now!

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Will Barratt has been performing in London’s West End (Jersey Boys, Phantom, War of the Worlds, Producers) for a while now but he became someone to look out for amongst Alfie Boe fans when he understudied Alfie’s Billy Bigelow in ENO’s Carousel; he literally took over from Alfie half way through a show after Alfie came down with an ear infection.  Two more shows the next day followed, both to rave reviews. I interviewed Will after the end of the five week run and although he was quick to point out he had no expectation of performing the role, in the event that he did, said that “it was good to get on for a couple of shows together, like a preview and opening night in two shows”.  Additionally, Will said that although Alfie was sad to have to miss the show, he was “so pleased that I got on – he was dead happy for me”.  If you want to hear Will singing the soliloquy, click here for a pre-show talk and performance at ENO (soliloquy starts at 23m).

As Will’s only role in the production was to understudy Billy, I was keen to find out about the creative process and rehearsal period; how much was he involved?  It turns out that both Will and Molly Lynch, who understudied Katherine Jenkins as Julie, were as fully involved as Alfie and Katherine from day one.  Whoever plays the part, the blocking and direction is the same, it’s the thought processes of the actor that differs.  Will says that “Alfie, Katherine, Molly and I, we all got on, we worked through stuff together…Alfie was also going through the process of figuring out the role, he didn’t know what it was on day one either.  We were all doing it together”.

Now, you might be wondering about the headline of this piece – Confessions of a Justified Sinner.  This is the title of Will’s self penned debut album, released in 2015 and showcases his seemingly effortless talent for singing, playing multiple instruments and song writing.  Of the songs themselves, Will says that “all the songs on this album contain bits of me, my life, history, wants and needs, aches and pains, ups and downs…they are my confessions”.  He leaves it up to us as to whether he is a justified sinner or not!

Being self penned, this album is not what you might expect from a musical theatre performer – there are a few songs that wouldn’t be out of place in a musical but on the whole, the songs are a mix of upbeat, rockier, pop and jazz with a hint of Americana that really get you up and out of your seat.  To me, a great song is one that you instantly sing along to or you can’t sit still to and both the opening track, Give Me Some Time and Demon, towards the end, had me up and dancing straight away.  These two songs, together with Fearless (below), a beautiful ballad and the almost Buble-esque Never Thought, are my favourite songs.  Interestingly, Give Me Some Time and Never Thought are songs originally written when Will was at school, just reworked and rearranged to give a more sophisticated sound.

Will’s fabulous voice handles all these styles with great versatility and is a joy to listen to.

Confessions of a Justified Sinner is available here:

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For one night only, Alfie Boe and Michael Ball played to a US audience in New York City.  Our NYC reporter, Roberta Kappus was on hand and kindly sent this review:

After a four and a half month hiatus from the Together tour, Alfie Boe joined Michael Ball last night for the only US performance of this UK sellout show. Alfie’s return to the stage was as though he had never left. It was a show and performance worthy of Broadway. The singing was priceless, the dancing precisely synchronised  and the overall evening just amazing.

Alfie’s versatility and talent were on display throughout the show from the opening song of Somewhere to the closing song of New York, New York which was greatly appreciated by the New Yorkers in the audience and by the sound of the applause by many others. In between there was a full array of songs running from the classic Les Mis medley to Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds, a personal favourite, to Love Reign O’er Me, another favourite.  Two more additions to the UK set list were Anthem and Luck Be A Lady Tonight.  All were brilliant additions – if some songs were dropped I could not name them. Through the magic of Alfie’s voice I was just transported from one enthralling song to another during this incredible evening. There were numerous standing ovations, amongst them Anthem, Love Reign O’er Me, and the Les Mis medley.

Throughout the show Alfie was totally relaxed, very comfortable in his role as singer and entertainer and very much enjoying himself. Towards the beginning of Love Reign O’er Me there was a problem with the piano which Alfie noticed instantly. As technicians rushed onto the stage Alfie very comfortably went into several minutes of comedic ad libbing. Alfie was so successful in distracting the audience that several people around me thought it was part of the act. To me it was another example of Alfie’s assurance as an entertainer in capturing and holding the audience’s attention regardless of circumstances.

Anyone who had not previously seen this show would not have noticed that some of the comedic moments had been dropped. However the poor woman leaving for the ladies’ room was spotted and asked why she had not gone before the show by Alfie.  Alfie’s trouble mounting the chair and Michael’s assistance in the first act was replaced by Alfie simply sliding off a stool. However Michael’s praise of Alfie had Alfie running back onto the stage to give Michael a big kiss on the cheek to much laughter.

The show took place just 24 hours after the Manchester attack and before the show began, a moment of silence was observed.  Another sombre moment was acknowledged during the Bond medley when Sir Roger Moore’s (who passed away yesterday) photo was shown.

It was truly lovely to have Alfie in New York again. He more than lived up to the expectations I had from seeing Together in the UK. I was not alone as the audience showed its appreciation through numerous standing ovations. For me Alfie’s versatility as a singer, actor and entertainer was highlighted by the fact that I had just seen him ten days ago in English National Opera’s Carousel. I am still overwhelmed by the transition I witnessed from Billy Bigelow to Alfie Boe. What an evening to remember. Thank you, Alfie Boe and please come back.

Thank you Roberta for a truly wonderful review – New York, New York was the perfect song to end with.

Together is available here:

Click here to buy tickets for their Summer and Winter UK tour dates.

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The ride on the ENO Carousel with Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins is over and despite the sadness that it’s over, I’m left with an overwhelmingly lovely bunch of memories from these five weeks; Alfie was on top form as Billy Bigelow, I’ve had some fantastic stage door experiences and best of all, I got to share it with fabulous friends.  It also seems that Alfie thoroughly enjoyed the experience, judging from Instagram:

The role of Billy Bigelow will remain with me for the rest of my life. Thank you to all who helped me channel this complex character. I love bringing role to life but as a performer, we must remember “You’ll never be bigger than the show you’re in.” And my favourite line in the show is “Don’t be scared of people who don’t like you, just try liking them!” Love to you all.

Great choice of favourite line Alfie – perfectly demonstrates the overall theme of Carousel, redemption.  Thinking back over the shows I’ve seen, I think it is the story of redemption that will stay with me as much as the nuanced performance that Alfie gave, especially the further the run went on.  Alfie’s vocals were of course immaculate, that was never in doubt, but to see the subtle changes in his performance was something special and showed he really understood the flawed character he was portraying.  I’m really hoping that this is not the last time we see Alfie in a musical or even, a return to an operatic role.

Now, the competition winners! To celebrate both Carousel and thoughtsofjustafan’s third birthday, I’ve got five signed Carousel programmes to give away and the five lucky winners who knew that Alfie recorded Barcelona with Katherine in 2014 are:

Rhonda Greenwood

Pat Davies

Simmi Parkinson

Hazel Mackel

Jo Sorsby

Congratulations – send me your address details and I’ll get them sent out.  Here are Alfie and Katherine singing Barcelona in Edinburgh:

Alfie can next be seen at the New York City Center on May 23rd  – performing with Michael Ball, for one night only – click here to get your tickets now.

I’ll finish with one of my favourite moments from these five weeks – forgive the indulgence!

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Woohoo – we’ve made it three years and still going strong!

Let’s celebrate with a live performance from Alfie – one of the best ever!

It’s been another fabulous year – my first full year being the Official Alfie Boe Fan Blog! – and I have some signed Carousel programmes to give away!

All you have to do is answer the question* below:

My personal highlights from this last year:

The Together tour – the music, Alfie and Michael, fabulous friends

Carousel – press night and a visit to the stage door the following week when Alfie thanked me for my review (“you always give me such good reviews”)

It’s also been a pleasure meeting so many readers and fellow Alfie fans who took the time in the last year to come and tell me how much you enjoy thoughtsofjustafan.  Thank you, you make it worthwhile.

As always, there’s a few people I’d like to thank:

Roberta, Carole, Linda A, Linda W, Karen, Jan, Sue, Pat, Cecelia and Sally – thanks for being fantastic friends and always having my back

Linda W and Nikki – thanks for the amazing photos and videos (Linda)

Deb – thanks for holding my hand every step of the way

Emily and Jo at Vector – couldn’t do it without you

Alfie – thank you for the inspiration and all the support – definitely couldn’t do it without you!

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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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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


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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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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Apparently today is Blue Monday or the most depressing day of the year so in case you’re feeling in need of cheering up, here’s the thoughtsofjustafan 2017 quiz of everything Alfie Boe!

As with previous quizzes, there are no prizes but plenty of pride to be played for – how many will you get right?  Answers will be posted next week.

Good luck…and no cheating!

  1. With which product did Alfie make his TV commercial debut in 2016?
  2. At which football team’s ground did Alfie sing the National Anthem in 2016?
  3. How many dates were there on the 2016 Together tour?
  4. Name Alfie’s three opera heroes from the Spring radio 2 show.
  5. What was special about 12th November 2016?
  6. Which actress and singer featured as a guest artist on Ball and Boe: One Night Only?
  7. Alfie will play which role in Carousel in 2017?
  8. Katherine Jenkins will play Julie Jordan; where will she sing with Alfie before that?
  9. Which song was voted the fans favourite in 2016?
  10. Which two songs featured in Alfie’s solo section of the Together tour?

Have you seen the Together tour YouTube playlist* yet?

*the first video may not play in all countries.

Check out the updated Alfie Boe gallery too – click here.

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