Les Mis 25th anniversary

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Just three more weeks of the poll to find out your favourite Alfie Boe recorded song – and we come to his signature tune, Bring Him Home:

Bring Him Home is of course a constant in Alfie’s live performances and in this annual poll; twice being voted number one and never being lower than number four.  So much has been written about Alfie and this song (quote a lot of it by me!) and it’s always a challenge to come up with something new to say about it, so this time, I’ll let Alfie do the talking with an extract from his autobiography, My Story.  Alfie is talking about his life changing appearance at the Les Mis 25th anniversary concert:

I knew that Bring Him Home would be my moment, the golden key.  I knew that was it.  ‘Boy needs a song!’  It’s incredible, how that song came to me again, after our false alarm with the Festival of Remembrance.  We knew that was the one, but it disappeared, and we didn’t think of it again until Cameron Mackintosh knocked on the door.  And it is such a spiritual song, it’s so special.  When Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil write it they must have been excited.  They must have known they had something special…Herbert Kretzmer was really stumped with the lyrics, he didn’t know what words would fit to these three syllable lines.  The John Caird, the co-director, said the melody sounded like a prayer, and Herbert wrote it overnight.  It is a prayer, it’s acutally called The Prayer, it’s not officially called Bring Him Home, and I treat it as such every time I sing it.  I pray.  That’s what makes it work.

Beautiful words from Alfie – and for those who don’t know, Alfie sang Bring Him Home at the Festival of Remembrance in 2007 and Harvey Goldsmith said, “boy needs a song” after the performance.  It just took a few more years to really get hold of it!

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Summer is here and it’s another chance to look at Alfie Boe’s fabulous repertoire, with Joan Mould’s Six Sensational Songs.  Joan first became aware of Alfie at the Royal Variety Show and until Kenwood recently, had yet to see Alfie live.  Hope you enjoyed it Joan!  Here are Joan’s choices.

Bridge Over Troubled Water, from Storyteller.  Joan heard this on iTunes and thinks it’s “the best version I’ve ever heard”.  I’m with you there, Joan!

Run, from the VE Day celebrations, is the fans favourite live song by a long way, winning the annual best live Alfie Boe song every year since 2015.

Bring Him Home.

In My Daughter’s Eyes, for Joan’s two grown up daughters.

Keep Me In Your Heart – my favourite!

Empty Chairs and Empty Tables, with Nick Jonas, Marius from the Les Mis 25th Anniversary concert.

Thanks Joan for letting us hear your six sensational songs.

If you would like to see your choices featured here, please fill in the form:

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As August winds to a close and Classic Quadrophenia in USA gets closer (less than a week!), it’s time for another look at your favourite Alfie Boe songs.  This week it’s the turn of Helen Linden, who first heard Alfie sing in 2010 at the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert. Helen says “I’d never even heard of Alfie Boe up to this point – it was my then sixteen year old daughter who persuaded me to go with her to see Marius as she was a massive Nick Jonas fan.  That’s when I discovered Alfie and have been a fan ever since.

These are Helen’s six sensational songs:

Caruso, chosen “because I love the tone of Alfie’s voice for this dramatic song. It’s a powerful melody and how Alfie manages to fit in all the words, I’ll never know! It was a favourite of my Dad’s when Pavarotti used to sing it but I think Alfie does it better.”

Chitarra Romana, added to Helen’s list of favourites when Alfie performed it at the MEN arena in Manchester. It was just a joy to hear Alfie singing this upbeat song on the sofa with Murray and the rest of the band.

The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, chosen because it’s one of Helen’s favourite songs and “when I heard Alfie singing the first line….followed by ‘I was sick’, I just roared with laughter. It took Alfie a while to get back ‘n the zone’ but love how he doesn’t take himself too seriously.”  I couldn’t find that particular video so I included another where he was clearly enjoying himself with a laugh.

Volare, chosen because “I just love this song and Alfie’s interaction with the audience during this one. I even brought Castanets to play during one of the shows!”

Love Reign O’er Me, from Classic Quad.  As Helen says, “not an easy song to sing but Alfie just nails it. And that last note. Well, what can I say?”  Having written about this song for to years now, I agree that there aren’t enough superlatives to do justice to Alfie’s voice on this song and indeed the whole album.

The song that started it all for Helen: “I first heard Alfie sing this back in 2010 at the O2 for the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert. I’d never even heard of Alfie Boe up to this point.  But I was hooked, just like so many others after hearing Alfie Bring Him Home. It’s my favourite favourite Alfie song and I never get tired of hearing him sing it.”

Love Reign O’er Me and Bring Him Home now tie with A Living Prayer as the most chosen songs for your choice of Alfie Boe’s Six Sensational Songs and nice to see three new songs in this series.  Thanks Helen for sharing your songs with us.  If you would like to share your six sensational songs with us, please fill in the form:

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As we come to end of the Summer Together Tour 2017 (just one date left), it’s once more time to indulge ourselves with six of Alfie Boe’s most sensational songs.  This time they are chosen by Anne Norberg, who, like Alfie, is a Lancastrian now resident in the USA.  These are Anne’s choices:

Run, chosen because “the VE Day celebration was the first time for us hearing Alfie sing this and it was so very poignant and moving. I would dearly love him to record this song.”

Forever Young at the US Memorial Day show 2015, chosen because “watching this on TV made my heart burst with pride and I clapped and cried. (I know many of you can relate). I had friends in other States all watching it too so it was something I could share with them. He displayed such presence, and commanded that stage. I love the way it built up slowly to that magnificent climax.”

Don’t Stop Me Now at Gary Barlow’s New Year’s Eve TV special, chosen because “Just WOW! Alfie was having so much fun and the audience were so involved and well, THAT VOICE! Pure energy and fun. Our boy can sing anything! It gives me burst of energy just to re-listen to this every time.”

Who Am I – Anne chose Alfie singing this at the 25th Les Mis concert but as it keeps disappearing due to copyright issues, I’ve chosen this 2011 TV version instead.  Anne’s reason for choosing the original is  “because I love the audience response when they first hear that incredible two, four, six,oh, one!!! And I would just be so excited for him when I was there in person each time!”

A Living Prayer, chosen because “the most amazing, beautiful voice cuts right through to my soul. And now I’m also aware of the purity of his younger voice then compared to the depth and richness it has now. I love both voices.”

Barcelona, with Laura Wright, chosen because it’s “spectacular, and another one of his power songs. He’s said this is a difficult sing and so I love his ability to master anything!”

Thanks Anne for your choices.  A Living Prayer is the most popular choice of your songs, having been chosen three times altogether, with only one song (Forever Young) appearing on the overall list.

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Week three of the Club 24601 Jean Valjean series and this week’s focus is the youngest JVJ, John Owen-Jones.  (Try writing lots of JOJ as JVJ and see how hard it is!)  As well as being the youngest JVJ, John also played the role in the 25th anniversary touring production of Les Mis (he is the JVJ featured in the cast recording) and on Broadway.  In addition, he of course formed one quarter of the Valjean Quartet along with Alfie Boe, Colm Wilkinson and Simon Bowman at the 25th concert.  Also, very memorably and obviously unexpectedly, John was called up on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2013 to sing Bring Him Home with Alfie  – what a great moment that was for the audience!

In a previous interview, I asked John if he had plans to work with Alfie again after that night and he said that he’d had no plans to work with him then either!

He is currently playing the title role in Phantom of the Opera in the West End and is tremendously good (I saw him just over a week ago).  In the course of the interview, I asked if he would ever be tempted back to Broadway and his answer was in the affirmative, saying “I would quite like to have a crack at Phantom in the Majestic one day”.

Back to Les Mis and as he is the youngest person to play JVJ, I wanted to know what was different about the way he approached the role when he was older? John said “Well, I had a more rounded outlook on life and more life experience to draw on when I was older. I had two children in the intervening years and suffered some loss in my family and had grown up a lot. I therefore was naturally able to give the character more depth and I like to think my approach to interpreting the role was more mature than when I was 26”.  The natural next question was about the differences in playing the role in the West End, on Broadway and the touring company.  It turned out that there were considerable differences – the touring version (now the Broadway show) was re-imagined from the ground up and John was given a lot of freedom to inject ideas into the show.  Some of the new bits of staging – the hint of Valjean meeting with Petit Gervais in the prologue (a very important part of Valjean’s story in the book), the chain in the hospital fight, the bishop returning at the end of the show – all came from ideas he had in rehearsal.  John says that one idea was rejected (no beard and a shaved head – can’t think why John!).  John went on to say that “these of course all informed how I approached the role. I also worked hard to age my voice and physicality as the show moves along and tried to make Valjean rougher vocally in the beginning.”  Of course I then wanted to know if he would play the role again if asked? The answer was “yes of course but I think the time would have to be right for me to do it again and I’m not quite ready at the moment.”

Throughout the interviews with the JVJ’s there has been a consistent theme of how amazing it is to sing such an incredible score night after night and John is no exception.  When asked about the best aspect of the role, he said “when you are 100% on top of it playing the role can feel like flying”; conversely, the best part is also the worst, “sometimes the role is like climbing a mountain every night if you aren’t feeling physically or vocally up to it.”  As Geronimo Rauch memorably said, at least they don’t have to dance!

Unsurprisingly, along with most of the other JVJ’s, John chose Bring Him Home as his favourite song as a singer, and uniquely in these interviews, Who Am I as an actor.  Oneof his most memorable JVJ moments concerned a rehearsal of Bring Him Home with Claude Michel Schoenberg: John said “I was rehearsing Bring Him Home with Claude-Michel in a room backstage at the Barbican. We were running through the song when he suddenly stopped playing the piano and looked slowly around the room with a quizzical look on his face. Then he looked at me and said in that wonderful French accent of his: “Wait…zis room…it is where I wrote zis song!”  What a fabulous memory to have!  I was also interested in which non JVJ songs our JVJ’s liked (or wish they could sing in the show) and John’s choice was Fantine’s I Dreamed A Dream, saying “I think it’s the best song in the show”.

As mentioned earlier, John is currently playing the Phantom in the West End and he will shortly (this week) be appearing at Bryn Terfel’s 50th birthday celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall and in Broadway to the Bay in Cardiff (click here).   His latest album, Rise, is available here:

JOJ Rise

I had the great pleasure of reviewing it earlier this year – click here to read.

thanks for reading and sharing – next week’s JVJ is Peter Karrie

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Yes, you read that right – Alfie Boe will appear at the 30th anniversary performance of Les Mis in London on 8 October.  You may not be all that surprised at this news as Alfie’s Broadway dates were so recently changed.  Other famous Jean Valjean’s will also be appearing including the very first one, Colm Wilkinson and more recently, Geronimo Rauch and John Owen-Jones.  Frances Ruffelle and Roger Allam have also been announced.

The best news for fans is that there will be a large number of tickets available in a mobile lottery and charity auction – the money raised will be donated to Save the Children’s Syria Children’s Appeal.

Cameron Macintosh said “Having already had so many requests to attend this very special anniversary performance, we know we could sell this performance many times over. We are limited by the capacity of the Queen’s Theatre and the number of invited guests who have been involved over the 30 year history, but we wanted to make over 40% of the house available to fans. The only fair way we can get these tickets out to the fans is through a lottery. Everyone involved in Les Misérables also wanted to take the opportunity to raise as much money as they can through the distribution of tickets towards the Save the Children Syria Children’s Appeal.”

The mobile lottery will be live online from 12 noon on Friday 25 September and can be found by clicking on www.lesmis.com/30 – if you enter, good luck!

Let’s remind ourselves of the 25th anniversary concert:

If you’re lucky and get tickets come back and let us know!

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The summer concerts are over and Alfie is in the US to start rehearsals for Broadway’s Les Mis.  Ramin Karimloo will be a hard act to follow but I’m sure Alfie will do us proud – look out for the first night review in September.

Now, in case us Alfie Boe fans are likely to be ever so slightly down in the mouth and suffering from post Alfie concert syndrome, here’s a little something to keep you entertained.  Back in March, I asked you what your top Alfie moments were and you responded enthusiastically as always.  My top Alfie moments included meeting Alfie and hearing him sing Addio Signi di Gloria at Classic FM Live – click here to see the rest.

So, in no particular order, your top ten fan moments are:

  • Nancy Webb meeting Alfie at the Utah concert in March this year and getting a photo.
  • Pauline Partridge meeting Alfie unexpectedly outside the Blackpool Opera House and getting a photo.
  • Marie meeting Alfie (again unexpectedly) in the bar of the Radisson Hotel, Glasgow after the Scottish Proms in the Park, 2013.
  • Alfie giving his drumsticks to Linda W on the Bring Him Home tour 2011.
  • The red carpet of the Classic Brits 2013 – Alfie bypassed the waiting press and came straight over to see The Two Linda’s and me.  Later that evening he tweeted a photo of the 40th birthday card we had given him.
  • Cecelia meeting Alfie outside the stage door of the Royal Albert Hall on the Storyteller tour and getting a photo (thanks to Nikki Lewis) – two actually as she spoiled the first one by giving Alfie a peck on the cheek!
  • Pat, Janet and Cecelia seeing Alfie at breakfast the day the Azura cruise departed.
  • Bring Him Home with John Owen-Jones at the Royal Albert Hall.

  • Love reign O’er Me live for the first time.

  • That show stopping moment when Alfie sang with the Jean Valjean Quartet at the Les Mis 25th anniversary concert – aka the moment most of us were Boed.

You picked some amazing top Alfie moments – again got goosebumps when watching the 25th anniversary video.  Other than that, the top moments show how generous Alfie has been when meeting fans – at the Royal Albert Hall on the Storyteller tour, Alfie was actually in the car on the way home when he stopped and got out to sign autographs and have photos.

If you have any more fan memories you’d like to share, please leave a comment – we’d love to see them.

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And so we reach the final instalment of your Favourite Alfie Boe Tour Moments.  And the winner of the overall poll is:

Serenata tour 2014

This tour also yielded by far and away the most comments from voters.  Highlights include:

  • Quadrophenia at the O2 with Rick Wakeman
  • Meeting Alfie at the stage door in Newcastle (the one and only time he came to the stage door on this tour)
  • Standing ovation after Bring Him Home – and hearing it live for the first time
  • Danny Boy in Cardiff and Newcastle
  • Bring Him Home at the O2 – first time since the Les Mis 25th anniversary concert
  • Being on the train to Cardiff with a group of mad but fabulous women
  • Buona Sera and My Heart is Yours at Cardiff

The two videos I’ve chosen were also chosen by voters and thanks to Linda W for sharing both – the first is from Newcastle and shows Alfie’s mishap with the razor (the lack of beard was a subject of much debate afterwards!):

The second is from the O2 and captures perfectly one of the show stopping moments from the show: Alfie singing Caruso and the curtain dropping to reveal the orchestra half way through:

Serenata is available here:

serenata

thanks for reading, voting and sharing your favourite tour moments – I enjoyed reading them all and included as many as possible

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With the New Year celebrations over for another year, it’s time for our first Friday Round Up in 2015 and the first since before Christmas.  Luckily for us, there was a new interview aired this week on BBC Radio Cornwall.  Alfie was interviewed way back in September by Debbie McCrory and they held the whole hour long interview back until this week – just the thing to banish the post tour blues. Thanks Marcia for sharing:

There’s a lot of chat about Les Mis as you would expect (Debbie had previously interviewed Alfie after the 25th anniversary) and amusing to hear Alfie struggling to say something good about Russell Crowe as Javert.  Damning with faint praise I think it’s called!  Also, some nice chat about Murray (he’s a Cornish lad) and the recording process of Serenata as opposed to Love Was A Dream.  Both were quick but one was considerably quicker!  A nice selection of music from Alfie’s earlier career too although it would have been nice to hear some of the Lehar as it was referenced in the interview.  Radio interviewers do tend to play a varied choice of music from Alfie’s career but Love Was A Dream never seems to get a look in – wonder why?  Slippers story gets another airing too!

In addition, Alfie was a guest on Bruce’s Hall of Fame on 27 December.  He sang Volare in tribute to Dean Martin which was lovely and had us all singing along at home I’m sure (two words at least, just like the tour!).  Alfie was first on which was great as it meant we didn’t have to watch the whole programme if we didn’t want to, although that would have meant missing a cracking turn from Alfie’s mate Jason Manford in tribute to Les Dawson.  Volare was Alfie’s only song but it was on the whole well received (I’m discounting the audience reaction here as they gave every performer a standing ovation) on social media.  Incidentally, interesting to see Alfie respond to people’s rude tweets; even with provocation he is always polite to trolls.  That doesn’t stop him putting them in their place though!  Again, thanks to Marcia for sharing the clip:

Volare is of course from Alfie’s new album, Serenata (available below) which is in the classical top ten for a sixth straight week!

serenata

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