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BWW Interview: Boe's Back! LES MISERABLES' New Jean Valjean Preps for His Big Broadway Return

As BroadwayWorld previously announced, Internationally-renowned performer Alfie Boe will return to Broadway to star as 'Jean Valjean' in Cameron Mackintosh's acclaimed new Broadway production of Claude-Michel Schönberg & Alain Boublil's Les Miserables, now in its second year at the Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street). Boe begins performances in Les Miserables Tuesday, September 1. Tony Award nominee Ramin Karimloo will give his final performance as Valjean on Sunday, August 30.

Boe made his Broadway debut as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrmann's acclaimed production La Boheme, for which he and his co-stars received a special Tony Award in 2003 for their performances. He is beloved by millions of Les Miz fans for his towering performance in the legendary 25th Anniversary Concert at London's O2 Arena in October, 2010, which instantly turned him into a star. The Evening Standard proclaimed, "Alfie Boe is a stunning Valjean." The legendary concert was subsequently released on DVD and Blu-Ray, selling millions of copies worldwide. In 2011, Boe played a sold-out six-month engagement as Valjean in the original West End production of Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre. His performances as 'Valjean' rapidly propelled him into a platinum-selling recording artist and a hugely-successful concert performer worldwide.

Boe just began rehearsals for his Broadway comeback, and he checked in with BroadwayWorld after Day 1. In the full interview below, find out how he feels about being Britain's favorite tenor, what his memories are of the 25th Anniversary concert and so much more!

You just started rehearsals! What was your first day like?

It was fantastic. Very, very intense because we haven't really got that much to do. We haven't had that much time getting into the role. The role is all there... I know all the music and things like that, but the main sort of production of the show we worked on. The choreography is something I'm trying to work on at the moment. We got quite a nice way through Act One of the show.

And it must be nice knowing you aren't the only new person joining the cast...

Yes! Oh my goodness, I felt like I was going to be the new boy at the new school in the new classroom, but I found out when I got here that there are a number of new cast members joining the show. So, it's great not to be the only one. I have met two of the new cast members yesterday. The new Cosette and Fantine. Fantine is played by Montego Glover and I heard her sing "I Dreamed a Dream" yesterday and it's the first time in a long while that I've been brought to tears. It was amazing! It was amazing! I've never heard that song sung as well since Lea Salonga, and my goodness when Lea sang it, it was just incredible. But listening to Montego sing it, it was beautiful. The innocence it had, the emotion it had, the strength, the sadness, it has everything in it that you would really need for that song and she just blew me away. She's amazing. So it's going to be very exciting to play opposite her.

Going back a little bit, when did you know that Broadway was going to happen?

I didn't really know. I kind of found out that Broadway was sort of on the cards not that long ago really. Cameron Mackintosh brought it up a few months ago and asked if I would be interested in reviving my role on Broadway and I was thrilled. I was thrilled and I thought, "Yeah, that would be great!" It takes a lot of things because my career tends to be enigmatic. I have my own shows and other projects come on board, so trying to plan and to get to do this has been something that I have been working on for a lot of years.

I would've loved to have been able to do the opening of this production on Broadway but unfortunately I was on tour and it was a very difficult time for me to commit to a long period on Broadway. Now seems to be like a great opportunity and a nice moment for myself. And along with the new cast members I've got to say, the new principals are one of the most exciting partnerships on stage that I've been waiting for. For years, since performing the role at the O2, I've wanted to work opposite Earl Carpenter. Earl Carpenter as Javert... he is frightening and he is dynamic. He's wonderful. So, getting the opportunity to work opposite Earl is a dream come true really for me, because when I first started playing the role, I knew that Earl was the Javert for me, for the particular way that I play Valjean. I think it's going to be quite an electrical sort of connection that we have together on stage. It's great.

I saw that you've been hanging out with some of your old friends since you've arrived in New York.

Yeah I saw Ramin the other day at the theater when I turned up. I've been hanging out with Matt Lucas as well, who was part of the 25th anniversary.

Have they shared any advice with you?

Not really. Ramin took over for me in the West End when I finished my run in the West End in London. He came in after me so, it's something that we've both brought our own styles to. We are both very different as Valjean. I think that this show is something that you have to discover yourself. It's one of those things you don't really take direction from another person because it's a different experience for you. You have to find your own way through it and that's what I've done the last time I did this show as well and taking over in the West End.

Let's talk more about the big O2 anniversary concert. What are your memories of being a part of it?

It was a huge, life-changing experience for myself. It was amazing to be able to be part of. The memory that come flooding back, to be honest, is the end of the show. The rehearsal period and the end of the performance, because I was actually, really in the part of Valjean throughout the whole show. The show seemed to go by so fast. It seemed to fly by, but I loved every minute. It was a great experience and wonderful thing to be apart of. That's something I will never really forget and something I will hold very close to my heart.

And of all the actors that have gotten to be part of Les Miz over the years, you are one of few whose performance has been captured. That's really special I think!

Yeah it was a very special moment for Les Miserables and a piece of history for the show to be performed on such an epic stage and in front of such an incredible viewing audience as well, around the world. It was nice to be apart of that and nice to have that opportunity to really connect with the show. I'm very fortunate that it gets shown on PBS quite often!

I've been reading all about you this week and numerous sources call you "Britain's favorite tenor," which must be true if everyone says so! What's your reaction to that kind of praise?

I don't know. I used to be known as "The Bad Boy of Opera" and some people still call me "The Bad Boy of Opera." [Laughs] I like that. I prefer that over "Britain's Favorite Tenor" because I'm sure there are a number of tenors out there that are much better than me now. I'm getting old and there are a lot younger, better singers. I'm just one of many singers in the UK that has an audience that I'm the favorite. I don't like the accolade. I'd rather be known as "The Bad Boy of Opera" still!

Is this your first time being back in New York for an extended period of time since la Bohème?

Yes, this is my first performance back on Broadway since 2002 actually! I did do a US tour, so I did come back to New York and play the Town Hall Theatre and that was a great night, but this is actually my first Broadway show back since La Bohème.

Is it good to be back in in the city?

Oh it's great. It's great being back here. I actually have a nice place to live this time! It's a really nice flat in a nice part of town. I've got a wonderful view of the city.

What are you most looking forward to with this big Broadway run ahead of you?

My wages. [Laughs] No, I'm really looking forward to being a big part of the Broadway energy- the Broadway life. Getting to meet people. I actually love meeting the audience members! I love meeting the fans of Les Miserables. They're a great bunch of people and I really enjoy meeting them. If they could all stand at the stage door I'll be out every night to say 'Hello!' and sign whatever they want. I love meeting the Broadway audience and I've heard from other cast members that the audience during the show is a totally different than the English audience. I think they really get into the piece and about performances. I'm looking forward to hearing that reaction.

Alfie Boe, widely-known as Britain's favorite tenor, hails from the Lancashire, England fishing port Fleetwood. After studying and singing opera at London's National Opera Studio and the Royal Opera House, Boe was chosen by director Baz Luhrmann to star as Rodolfo in his Broadway production of La Boheme. He went on to release numerous highly-successful solo albums in the UK and the US and has toured extensively in both regions.

His newest solo album is Serenata, a collection of romantic Italian songs, which was released in November, followed by a highly-successful UK tour that concluded at the O2 Arena. In July, Boe will co-star with Pete Townsend in his Classic Quadrophenia at London's Royal Albert Hall. His live opera appearances include The Pearl Fishers at theEnglish National Opera and Romeo ET Juliette at the Royal Opera House. He was recently featured in the popular ITV series "Mr. Selfridge" as music-hall singer Richard Chapman and released his autobiography, My Story. In addition to his acclaimed performances as Valjean at the London O2 25th Anniversary Concert and in the West End production, Boe performed "Soliloquy (What Have I Done?)" as well as "Bring Him Home" with Colm Wilkinson, John Owen-Jones and Simon Bowman for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall as part of the Royal Variety Performance in 2010. In 2012 he performed at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Article reprinted with permission from

What You Say

6 reviews, average rating: (4.2 Stars)

Anonymous: “Masterful!”

I saw this on the second night of its debut and it was amazing. The casting... more

Anonymous: “Spectacular!”

One word, Wow! Attended the matinee on March 19 and was overwhelmed by c... more

Sylvie Jean: “Wonderful!”

Saw it on the 15th March and was magical! The cast is great With incredib... more

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