January is a notoriously difficult month after the Christmas and New Year festivities and it is no different if you are an Alfie Boe fan. As we are in an unexpectedly quiet time before the excitement of his small screen acting debut in Mr Selfridge on 23 February, I’m taking this opportunity to share two more stories of fab friends I’ve met through following Alfie. I first met Sally and Cecelia at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2013 on the Storyteller tour and we quickly became firm friends, meeting up several times for dinner, wine and chat. Indeed, Cecelia and I are shortly to spend a weekend with Sally where we can indulge our obsession to our hearts content!
First, here is how Sally came to follow Alfie:
I am 54 years old, a mother of two and a grandmother of three (at the last count). And until 2011 I had never been to a musical concert on my own……Back in 2007 I remember coming home from Brussels for the weekend and watching an impossibly young looking tenor named Alfie Boe sing Stranger in Paradise on Parkinson, and thinking ‘Blimey, he’s good.’ And promptly went back to Belgium again without taking it further. More fool me!Then after 4 years away I came back to the UK in September 2010. I had bought the 10th anniversary concert of Les Mis back in the day and had seen a lot of the blurb around the 25th anniversary production at the O2. And then I caught Les Mis at 25 with Matt Lucas on the TV and thought I remember that man – where have I seen Jean Valjean before? And so I got a copy of the concert.
It was a revelation. Alfies’ voice, by turns soft and lyrical, then forceful and soaring was totally mesmeric – the show itself was wonderful with a fine supporting cast but it was the almost slight figure with the expressive eyes that kept my whole attention. So then it was You Tube – I found the Parkinson show excerpt, discovered the making of La Passione (he does so many things in the kitchen you would think he had an interest in food!!!) and of course ‘Nessun Dorma’ in Matt Lucas’s kitchen. I saw and read all the interviews, marvelled at his wonderful family life, laughed at his antics (his embarrassment on Loose Women still makes me giggle) and joined the ABUK forum. And then came the news that he was going to be at the Queens Theatre as JVJ in Les Mis. I booked the best ticket I could. I was so excited. Bored all my friends and amused my family – I’m known for being quite pragmatic. And on the due date turned up at the theatre only to find Alfie was sick. I was devastated. Jonathan Williams was an excellent replacement but what was I to do? I wanted to see Alfie but I had never seen a show twice before – I booked a ticket for the following Tuesday. Got there, heart in mouth but no announcement. Alfie was on and he was sublime; I was totally wrapped up in the tale of this man’s redemption and sacrifice. And so was he. There seemed to be no acting involved – he simply was Valjean. I went back three times more, once to the Stage Door after a lot of encouragement from ABUK friends. And then came the concerts, the Bring Him Home and Storyteller tours. I have seen 9 in all from Aberdeen to Brighton via Blackpool and London and I have loved them all. I even went to Carfest South when my knowledge of cars could be written on the back of a jam pot cover. Alfie on his albums is wonderful to listen to but live, he is a tour de force, by turn serious, bawdy, energetic (he leaps over stages, boxes and barriers to get to his audience) and above all that glorious voice that seems to sing exactly what he tells it to whether it be classical, rock, blues or country. My friends think I’m mad and my family think Alfie should take out a restraining order. I don’t care. I’m on the Alfie train and loving every moment of the ride.
Cecelia is originally from the USA but has lived in London for many years, having come to work and study and ended up marrying a wonderfully understanding Englishman. I can confidently state that he is wonderfully understanding because this seems to be a necessity in husbands or partners of die hard Alfie fans!
Cecelia first heard Alfie sing at the Festival of Remembrance in 2008 and thought it was a lovely performance but did not send her scurrying to find out more about the cute singer. Instead, it was a couple of years later when she took her daughter to the 25th Anniversary concert of Les Mis at the O2 that Cecelia fell in love with Alfie Boe and his voice. Like many other Alfie fans I may add!
Cecelia then saw him in concert at Watford and began following the forum chat on ABUK for a while before taking the plunge and joining in with the madness. Her wonderfully understanding husband proved to be just that when he bought her tickets to the Storyteller tour at the Royal Albert Hall which brings me back to how we all first met, face to face. such happy memories!
Thanks for reading once again xx
I loved reading Sally’s story. It sounds a lot like how many people came to know and love Alfie. Keep writing these stories. They are fun to read.