Les Mis

All posts tagged Les Mis

A few weeks ago, in response to fan photos of meet and greet opportunities with Alfie Boe, we looked at two stories in more depth.  In a second instalment, here are two more stories, from Cathy Rogers Sarabia (my birthday twin) and Julie Connolly.  Here is Cathy’s story:

I’ve met Alfie several times at stage doors and M&Gs, and he always shows up smiling, courteous, generous, and so funny! My first time was in London for his birthday party back in 2011, before Les Mis at The Queens Theatre and after we sang to him, he recommended we work on our singing. The last time was in NYC at The Metropolitan Opera House after Classic Quadrophenia, and when he flashed me that smile of recognition and waved to my daughter hiding in the back, my heart nearly melted. In between those two times were, I don’t know 10 or 11 more meetings, from Broadway theatres, to nightclubs, concert halls, Opera Houses, bookstores; and every time he amazes me with his kindness to fans and seeming shock and surprise that he is loved so much by so many people. I think my favourite picture with Alfie is from Frederick, Maryland back in 2013. It was a spontaneous decision to stay after that concert and sometimes no preparation is the best preparation!

 

The second story is from Julie in 2015:

My son shared a house with one of Alfie’s nephews. He took me back stage at Leeds Millennium Square. Alfie saw me, stood up and came straight over to talk to me. He was lovely, polite and friendly. I will never forget it!

 

What fabulous stories ladies – and equally fabulous photos too!

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Earlier this year, we looked at the pleasures of meeting Alfie Boe and it was so much fun to see so many photos of Alfie’s lovely fans.  On the back of that, I asked you to send in your photos and experiences of meeting Alfie and you didn’t disappoint!

Starting us off are two ladies who shared photos with Alfie at a stage door and the Trust album signing in London.  Kate Griffin first ran into Alfie at the Les Mis stage door and this is what she says:

My very first meet with Alfie was quite by chance at the stage door when he appeared in Les Mis. My husband and I travelled to London to see the show and happened to be passing the back of the theatre prior to the show. As we walked by we spotted Alfie on the other side of the street as he dived in to a bar! We thought that was it and he was gone but he must have been looking for someone as he immediately came back out again and crossed the street toward us. I was so excited as I think you can see in my face! He was quite happy to spend a minute or two chatting and posing! I’ve been so lucky to since have had two official meet and greets and another stage door greet at Carousel as well as the HMV signing last year. So I am truly blessed and lucky to be able to say I’ve met him a few times and had that arm around my waist for photos and seen close in to those gorgeous brown eyes!

The second story is from Lesley Armstrong and her photo is from the Trust album signing:

Lesley Armstrong HMV 2013

Lesley says

I have had the opportunity to meet with Alfie on many occasions, and he never fails to bring me joy as it’s a reminder of how hard he has worked to get to where he is today in his profession. He is the best opera singer Britain has ever produced, and is so humble & wonderful to his fans. He puts you immediately at ease and the tongue tie you feel disappears and you break into a huge smile just being around him. I am feeling less tongue tied the more I meet him trying to relax and just take in those rare special moments with him that seem to pass so quickly so touchable to be prepared if you wan’t to ask that specific question or get that special photo of you both together. Alfie is the only man who could make me travel the world just to see him; even for just 5 minutes I would be there to support him. He’s our treasure and a wonderful entertainer.

Thank you Kate and Lesley – treasured memories indeed!

There are still meet and greet packages available for Alfie’s solo UK shows – click here for details.

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Shawn Alexander is the latest fan to choose her six favourite Alfie Boe songs  Shawn says that she “originally learned of Alfie through Michael Ball. I’m a big fan of Michael’s – then watching the Les Mis anniversary concert I was introduced to Alfie. With living in the states and in Florida I don’t have many opportunities to see shows. When Michael and Alfie were in NY I just HAD to go – I’m a single Mom, and I don’t spend foolishly but I just had to treat myself.”

These are Shawn’s choices, chosen simply because they are her favourites.

Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quadrophenia – Shawn saw Alfie perform this in New York and it “moved me to tears”.

Along with Shawn’s first choice, Bring Him Home is the most popular song in this series, each having been chosen six times.

Someone to Watch Over Me

Maria, from West Side Story.

It Was A Very Good Year – this song provides one of the best moments on the DVD of the Bring Him Home tour, Alfie Live!

When I Fall in Love.

Yet again, I’m taken aback by the depth of Alfie’s repertoire – four of these six songs have not been chosen before!  If you would like to see your six songs featured, please fill in the form:

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For fans of musical theatre, the name Dave Willetts is synonymous with the West End.  Over a career spanning more than thirty years, Willetts has appeared in many shows, including the lead in Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera.  He continues to perform in musicals around the UK and as befits an actor who was part of the original Les Mis production at the Barbican (understudy to Colm Wilkinson), Willetts more often than not, chooses to work with new musical projects.

Alongside this illustrious stage career, Willetts has also enjoyed success with a number of albums.  One such offering is Timeless, an album first recorded a while ago but only now finding it’s way into the mainstream, which for fans of rich, tenor voices and musical theatre alike, is nothing short of miraculous.  After all, we don’t often get the chance to hear new material from such a seasoned actor and singer.

I described Willetts as an actor and singer in that order as it happens to be the way he described himself when I interviewed him back in 2015 when we talked about Dave Willetts as Jean Valjean.  For him, this is the crucial distinction when performing in a musical.  It is somewhat of a surprise then to find that his back story has more in common with Alfie Boe than Michael Ball. Like Alfie, Willetts has a non performance background, working in engineering as a day job and relaxing through the medium of amateur productions. While performing in Charlie and Algernon at the Priory Theatre in the Midlands, Willetts was spotted by the art director of the Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre and after a successful audition, became a professional actor, with a first role in the chorus of Annie. Twelve months later he was in the West End with Les Mis and the rest, as they say, is history.

Timeless is a collection of songs that are exactly that; timeless.  Encompassing popular standards and songs from musical theatre, the album feels full of choices personal to Willetts and needless to say, they show off his vocal range and versatility to perfection.  This is a singer who through his vast acting experience, is able to convey warmth, tenderness, fun, pathos whilst also projecting enormous vocal power.

My favourite tracks are those from musical theatre, particularly I Dreamed You and This Is The Moment, from Tony Rees and Gary Young’s Jekyll and the Broadway production Jekyll and Hyde, respectively.  Willetts has worked with both shows and when I spoke to him in 2015, he was involved in writing the book for a further musical based on the Jekyll and Hyde story, The Man Inside, which has since had it’s premiere, Willetts of course taking the lead.

The majority of the other tracks are not from musicals and are such an eclectic mix that you have no option but to believe that these are personal choices.  Fun is the word that springs to mind when listening to You Took The Words Right Out and San Francisco Bay Blues – they would be great to listen to live.  Tears in Heaven and Smile allow Willetts to show his tender side while Bridge Over Troubled Water lets that rich tenor soar.  Leaving all this aside, the song I’ve taken away from this album is a duet, with Lara J West, on I Swear, a massive 1990’s hit for All4One.  As soon as you hear it, you’ll know it, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll love it.

Timeless is released on 2 February and is available for pre-order:

If you can’t wait that long, I have a copy to give away!  Just answer the following question – competition closes at Midnight on Sunday 21 January.

Which West End show did Dave Willetts star in after Les Mis?

This competition is now closed.

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The first Six Sensational Songs post for 2018 is from Karen Blower.  I first met Karen in a virtual sense on Twitter as we both had a love of Alfie Boe and also both blogged about music; Karen is also a huge Il Divo fan.  Karen first became aware of Alfie via the Royal Variety performance that featured him as part of the Les Mis medley and of course, since then, Alfie has graced that stage twice more.  Here are Karen’s choices:

Of course, Bring Him Home, from a few years ago and in Karen’s words, “enough said”.  No further reasons needed!

Tell Me It’s Not True, from the Together Again tour.  Karen chose this because “Blood Brothers is a favourite musical of mine and Alfie’s version of the iconic song is amazing, especially when sang with Michael Ball”.

It’s Over, from the Storyteller days.  Karen says that “I grew up listening to Roy Orbison and Alfie is one of only a few singers who can do proper justice to his songs”. Yes indeed, and I still love have a chuckle that Alfie opened his set with a song called It’s Over!

Over The Hills and Far Away, at the Festival of Remembrance in 2011.  This one gives Karen goosebumps – and I’m sure she’s not the only one!

Forever Young, again at the Festival of Remembrance, this time in 2013.  Alfie has of course appeared twice more in recent years, being, in Huw Edwards’ words, “a great friend of the festival”.  As with the previous choice, Forever Young is just beautiful and gives Karen goosebumps.

Finally, Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quadrophenia, this time from the Together tour 2016.  Karen acknowledges that this is a popular song by saying “again, yes I know but the emotion and power he puts into this, how can you not put it on the list?”  Quite – it was on my list!

Thanks Karen for sharing your six songs with us – yet again, two new songs to add to the list!

If you would like to share your six favourite Alfie songs with us, please fill in the form below.

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Three dates in (next stop Birmingham) and Alfie Boe and Michael Ball are on fine form on their Together Again tour 2017.  The lovely Claire Shorter and her mum, Janet were there for us last night and bring us their review below.  As Claire says herself, she entered into the Together venture not really knowing Alfie, but thought that if Michael loves Alfie and his work, then it was bound to be great. A year on and Claire now adores them both and even shared a laugh about with Michael at the Brighton meet and greet. As Claire and Janet went to say hello to Michael, he looked at Claire and said “go on over there to the one you left me for”, pointing at Alfie.

The BIC was bursting at the seams, the lights went down and silence fell, you could feel the anticipation. The music started and the boys began singing As If We Never Said Goodbye, with photos representing the fabulous year they have had appearing on the screen; from cuddling a koala, the Blackpool HMV signing and the great picture of the boys with their chopper. They then arrive on stage, looking and sounding amazing. Next is You’ll Be Back, the bromance banter and giggles begin and it is clear to see they really are each others favourite subject. Alfie tried to get the security lady to sing along but she was having none of it, so funny. This was followed by Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Higher. Both pulled out the moves and Alfie had a twinkle in his eye gesturing out to the audience.  They then sang Hero, chosen by Alfie – the melodies are so beautiful and I love watching Michael miming the words as Alfie sings his section.  Next was Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers, which is always a crowd pleaser, followed by Some Enchanted Evening, with Alfie sounding magical when he starts singing and Michael continues this when he joins in. When they sing Not While I’m Around, it is clear that they truly feel this about each other, they have each others backs. The winks that they share during the song are beyond cute.

The Rose comes with beautiful graphics on the screen, hearing them both sing this and Love Changes Everything is so refreshing. I love how Michael sings these songs but two powerhouses brings yet another dimension to the performance. One of my favourites from the Together tour was A Thousand Years so I was pleased to hear this again, the way they sing this song is nothing but perfection. The banter then continues and Alfie has to look after Michael; who would have thought I would be seeing Alfie wind Michael on stage! Watching Michael follow Alfie and his chair around the stage was amusing too. These two are so cheeky and mischievous and I love it.  My favourite section has to be He Lives In You followed by You’re The Voice, the audience loved it and Alfie was jumping around the stage like Tigger, he certainly has a lot of energy. I have a short commute to work and I make sure I listen to track 4, 5 and 12 of the new album, so although I was missing Evermore I was in my element singing and clapping along.

It was then interval time and unfortunately someone was taken ill at the beginning so there was a slight delay. When Michael and Alfie returned to the stage they sang the West Side Story medley beautifully (albeit I am not a big fan of the song Maria), there were also great visuals that accompany the medley. Before they continued to the next song Michael asked the audience to join them in wishing the gentlemen who had fallen ill, well. Michael confirmed the gentlemen was ok and Alfie joked that guys would do anything to get out of seeing the show!  The boys recent Royal Variety performance was then discussed, Alfie knew the dance but not the words and Michael knew the words but not the dance, however it was hilarious as Michael dropped a swear word and they both giggled most of the way through. They really do bring the audience sunshine. New York ,New York was next, but a seated version, it is great to hear it a different way, although I think all the fans are desperate to get up and have a dance.

Next comes a Queen medley and they do Freddie proud. The person next to me announced ‘they really are rock gods’! We were then treated to a bit of Edna and Michael pulled the gyrations out of the bag! In case we weren’t sure, Michael also confirms ‘I still bloody love Alfie Boe’. Michael’s second solo piece was The Impossible Dream, which always gets a great reaction. Michael is right, dream and dream big. Michael then left the stage and Alfie came on with his guitar, the band then joined him for Wagon Wheel, a song choice inspired by his late fathers love of that type of music. Such a great arrangement with the solo instrumentals, I felt like I was in a hick town, jamming with the locals. Alfie will be pleased to hear I caught the security lady having a little boogie to this song! We were treated to Run, a song Alfie dedicates to service men and women. Although I enjoyed Tiny Dancer the night before, I love Run, so emotional and strong.

Then it is the one that a lot of the crowd have been waiting for, Les Mis the medley is amazing and has a slight twist to how they have done it before. Although you don’t want the medley to end, it needs to as I think a lot of people forget to breathe. In the finale, One Day More, there was a lady on her feet waving her scarf, I love seeing other people showing their enjoyment and appreciation in such a way. Then the boys were gone and what a reaction they were given by the crowd, cheering, stomping feet, clapping and then the boys appeared again for the Prayer, wow, what an ending…..or is it….no, Michael’s dream then comes true…..he checks Alfie has gone then starts with the Wham medley, but Alfie just can’t resist, joining in. George Michael would have been dancing along with them. Those moves… Alfie braves it by standing on the piano but there is nothing stopping the boys, they really do end on a high leaving the audience with a huge smile on their faces.

Throughout the whole show, you can tell they really respect each others friendship and talent. They are also so grateful to the the fans, the interaction with the crowd is great, the smiles that beam, the winks that melt hearts and the waves that make you feel part of their journey. I am proud to be a fan and am very privileged to have shared some fantastic experiences with them.  A lovely thing about the concerts is meeting up with friends and also meeting new people. I sat two seats away from 92 year old Mary who wanted me to pass the message on to Alfie and Michael that they were amazing, she also said she would race me to the stage door!  Thank you also to everyone who is involved in putting on the show, whether it is the musicians, backing singers, Murray, Callum or anyone behind the scenes, you all do a great job.

Michael and Alfie, thank you both for bringing such joy to so many people and stay fabulous.

Wow, a fabulous review Claire and Janet, thank you so much!

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Most fans of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball have been keen to see the pair tour again since the end of the last tour in December 2016 and I am no exception.  After reading Carole Hunt’s wonderful review of the opening night, Cardiff, I was doubly excited to head down to Brighton and I was not disappointed.  Heather Crosskey, a guest reviewer from 2016 was also there and has added her review to mine.

Throughout 2017, in the numerous interviews and promotional appearances, as well as the concerts, it has been clear that Alfie and Michael share a very warm bond of friendship and this collaboration has been nothing but good news for them both.  This feeling is very much reflected in the structure and atmosphere of this set list and show – each song chosen shines a perfect spotlight on their voices, combined or solo, whilst also highlighting their friendship and differing personalities.  This change is apparent from the start when Alfie appears in jeans and black shirt (untucked) as opposed to the suit of last year.   However, the glitzy shoes that caused such excitement amongst fans have gone – perhaps they looked good but weren’t comfy?  We’ve all been there Alfie!

Musically, the highlights for me were the duet of Michael’s signature song, Love Changes Everything, Hero (a song I’m warming to each time I hear it), He Lives In You and the Queen medley.  You might think this list isn’t very long and you’d be right – although these were undoubted highlights, they don’t come close to the Les Mis medley, You’re The Voice and the Wham medley.  I can safely die happy now I’ve heard and seen Alfie singing and dancing  the music of Wham, just sensational and I’m a bit hoarse today after singing my heart out to these songs.

Seeing as many fans came to both Michael and Alfie through Les Mis, the pair have kept a medley in the set list but it’s much different than last year.  Backing singers, Ulrika, Tor and Emma do a phenomenal job on At The End Of The Day before Alfie and Michael return with I Dreamed A Dream and a new addition, Master of the House.  As with the  summer concerts, the medley ends with One Day More but in between, we see two solo spots: Michael’s beautiful rendition of Stars and Alfie’s Bring Him Home.  I am extremely lucky to have heard Alfie sing his signature song on numerous occasions and although I love it, there are other songs I love more.  Last night, however, and perhaps because I haven’t heard him sing the entire song for a couple of years, Alfie sang so movingly he brought me to tears for the second time, the first being He Lives In You.

Although all the songs I have mentioned were special, for me, the icing on the cake (or doughnuts, I heard they like doughnuts?!) was Alfie’s two solo numbers.  Both new for the tour and in those moments, as well as Queen and Wham, I felt I was truly seeing Alfie at his happiest and best.  For those who saw the Storyteller tour, it was akin to that.  Tiny Dancer was extraordinary but Wagon Wheel was just joyous:

It was also fantastic to see Alfie putting himself out there with a guitar – and doesn’t he play well these days?

Overall, it was a totally joyful experience and left the audience feeling on cloud ninety nine – love, love, loved it!  And now over to Heather:

There is a sense of brotherhood between these two giants of the music industry. Their voices blend together, there’s no competition between them. Neither man trying to take the spotlight, and gives a wonderful, relaxed feeling to the
proceedings. The choice of songs is inspired – audience participation is guaranteed and encouraged. There are songs from the new album, a song from Hamilton, and songs from other West End hit shows.

Love Changes Everything, sung as a duet, was moving and earned the guys a standing ovation. Having only heard it sung by Michael in the past, the addition of Alfie’s voice and harmonies took an already beautiful song to an entirely new dimension.  We were treated to a bit of soft shoe shuffle as Michael and Alfie performed Bring Me Sunshine – the song they sang at the Royal Variety Performance. Michael and Alfie each had a solo slot – we saw Michael relive his time in Hairspray with You Can’t Stop the Beat and then slow everything down with The Impossible Dream, which felt really emotional.  A medley of songs by Queen was great fun and again had the audience joining in. The evening ended with the most beautiful arrangement of The Prayer, sung in both English and Italian – I’m not ashamed to say it reduced me to tears. Then, just as we all thought it was time to go home, a final medley, this time of Wham songs had us all dancing, clapping and singing. A wonderful finale to an awesome evening.

If you’ve got a ticket to the Together Again 2017 tour then you’re in for a treat – it’s fabulous!

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Monday 13 November sees new musical Tiger Bay, open in Cardiff at the Wales Millennium Centre.  Set in the early 1900’s, the show tells the story of poverty and wealth in Cardiff’s Butetown through one young woman, played by Vicky Bebb.  Welsh musical star John Owen-Jones plays John Stuart, Third Marquess of Bute in a role written for him.

When I spoke to him earlier this year around the release of his compilation album, Bring Him Home, John said that to have a part written for him was “a long held dream”.  With Tiger Bay, John also had the opportunity to be involved in a new musical right from the beginning as the show initially premiered in Cape Town in March / April this year.  This  experience was different to other shows that John’s been it was “more like a long workshop with rewrites and changes” as opposed to slotting into a long running show.

One such long running show was Les Miserables, where he most recently took over from Alfie Boe on Broadway.  John enjoys a good relationship with Alfie and joked about Alfie and Ramin Karimloo (Jean Valjean before Alfie) that “they did what I originally did and then I went and showed them how it was supposed to be done.”  Click here for our Les Miz Broadway reviews to see if you agree!

Whilst on the topic of Alfie (John knowing Alfie and me writing this blog, talking about Alfie was inevitable) we talked about the infamous night at the Royal Albert Hall when Alfie pulled John up onto the stage to sing Bring Him Home.  Of that night, John said “I wished I hadn’t had two pints of lager but it was absolutely unplanned and terrifying but perhaps the beer was helpful.  I couldn’t believe Alfie had the balls to do that.”  That was my very first Alfie concert and because of that magical moment, one of the most memorable:

John, of course, also starred in another iconic long running show, Phantom of the Opera as well as a recent short revival of The Wild Party.  When asked, John’s dream roles include Sweeney Todd, George in the Park, Man of La Mancha, Into the Woods and Company.

Tiger Bay opens on 13 November – click here for tickets.

John’s latest album, Bring Him Home is available here:

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The latest in our series of Alfie Boe sensational songs comes from Lee Kelly.  Lee first became aware of Alfie shortly after the 25th anniversary Les Mis concert and was spellbound.  She’s since been lucky enough to see him live a few times and met him in New York on 28 February last year. In her words, she was a “quivering wreck”! These are Lee’s choices:

Trust, chosen simply because Lee loves the album.

Wayfaring Stranger – love the fun Alfie’s having in this video!  Lee chose this song because of the “haunting words”.

Tell Me It’s Not True, chosen as “Blood Brothers is my husband’s favourite musical and hearing Alfie sing Tell Me It’s Not True is wonderful”,

Run – Lee chose this as she has “always liked this song and Alfie takes it to another level”.

Bring Him Home, chosen as Lee says “Alfie makes every hair stand on end every time I hear him sing this” – I think we all agree!

Rank Stranger

Thanks for sharing your favourite songs with us Lee.

If you would like to share your favourite Alfie songs with us, please fill in the form!

Alfie Boe and Michael Ball last night bid farewell to their very own summer of love at the first night of the 2017 Greenwich Music Festival and as with the other dates, held the audience in the palms of their hands.  The title of this piece is Summer of Love and it’s been a joy to see so much love surrounding this tour of outdoor venues; love for Alfie and Michael from fans and on social media, love from Alfie and Michael for the fans and also the almost epic scale bromance between the two. This may be the first show of this tour that I’ve seen but I’m sure that Alfie and Michael have not missed any opportunity to spread the love and gratitude to fans and each other for the absolutely fantastic year they’ve had.

Although Greenwich was my only show of this tour, I’m so glad that I was able to be there for the last one – last nights are very special and I wasn’t disappointed.  How could I be when my favourite song, Keep Me In Your Heart (come on, you know my favourite line by now!) was included, along with last year’s Best Alfie Boe Live Song, Run.  Of the rest of the changes, I was most impressed by Luck Be A Lady (from one of my favourite old style musicals) and of course the addition of One Day More to the end of the Les Mis medley – just when you think Alfie can’t get any better, he does.  At this rate, I’ll need to research lots more superlatives with which to describe Alfie’s voice – for now, I’ll just say that for me, he was perfection last night.

The song that surprised me the most was the encore of You’ll Never Walk Alone which I have never really felt an emotional connection to.  Last night though, the theme of unity and standing strong through adversity spoke to me and the tears came.  Michael had earlier spoken very movingly about the troubled times we find ourselves in and it strikes me that You’ll Never Walk Alone is the perfect song to reflect our unity and strength – none of us have perfect lives, after all, despite what we say on social media!

Earlier in the day, Alfie and Michael had presented an award at the 02 Silver Clefs in aid of Nordoff Robbins and Alfie, an ambassador for the charity, spoke a few words during his solo slot about their work – click here to find out more about music therapy from Nordoff Robbins.

Now if all this sounds somewhat sombre, the concert did contain the usual amount of humour from these two likely lads, as can be seen from the beginning of A Thousand Years – rear of the year anyone?

Alfie and Michael’s Summer of Love may be over for the time being but it won’t be long until we see them again for Together Again 2017 and before that, Alfie will of course be seen as Jimmy in Classic Quadrophenia (click here for tickets).  Until then, we’ll have to be content to send the boys all our love – we’ve loved these two weeks!

Special thanks to Linda Wellington for taking such fabulous videos for us all to share and to my two reviewers, Cecelia and Barbara.  And I must give a special mention to the Boe Buddies I had the good fortune to spend the Greenwich concert with, particularly Margie who is here from Australia via Paris.

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