Review: Alfie Boe: Bring Him Home – Regent Theatre, Ipswich

For many aspiring musical theatre actors, Les Miserables’ Bring Him Home is often sung with the alternative lyrics ‘God It’s High’, reference to the vocal dexterity required for any tenor who has to master the anthem. For Alfred Giovanni Roncalli Boe, thankfully better known as Alfie, the song however has become something of his calling card.

Following an acclaimed performance in the 25th Anniversary concert and an equally acclaimed run in the West End, Mr Boe now takes to the road with an eclectic mix of musical theatre and rock and pop classics that showcase why he’s become the country’s favourite tenor.

There’s an air of expectation in the air the onstage 40 piece orchestra (under the direction of Steve Higgins) strikes up and Boe’s voice soars from offstage. From there on in Boe has the audience in the palm of his hand, barely offstage in a set spanning two and a half hours.

Boe explains early on in the evening that this will be a collection based on his album material and so operatic arias are unlikely to feature but as he explains it’s his show so if the mood takes him who knows what could be included.

As it happens there is plenty of material to satisfy all tastes. Powerful renditions of Sondheim’s Being Alive and Sunset Boulevard’s As If We Never Said Goodbye sit comfortably against material from The Beatles and even Led Zeppelin. Soaring ballads such as a virtuoso Tell Me It’s Not True showcases Boe’s immense vocal power but there are also quieter, more intimate moments such as a moving interpretation of country star Martina McBride’s In My Daughter’s Eyes, dedicated to Boe’s daughter.

Boe also demonstrates an easy repartee with his audience, engaging in plenty of witty banter and even inviting a member of the audience on stage to duet with him during The Impossible Dream.

For Boe’s special guest, Laura Wright it is something of a homecoming concert, having grown up locally. With a soaring soprano, Wright’s clear, crisp vocals soar through the auditorium. Joining Boe in a final duet of Moulin Rouge’s Come What May, the two voices combine to nearly lift the roof off the auditorium.

Bob Dylan’s Rank Strangers To Me comes close to stealing the title of most impressive vocal of the evening, in a chilling acoustic version but it is Boe’s rendition of Bring Him Home that brings the audience to their feet in rapturous appreciation. It’s clear that Boe has a strong emotional connection with the song and delivers wit deceptive ease.

Its perhaps telling though of his sense of fun that following Bring Him Home, Boe turns up the tempo with a jazz infused rendition of spiritual Jacob’s Ladder that sees him not only provide the vocals but take to the drums.

After two and a half hours, several standing ovations and encores, the audience finally let Boe leave the stage. Having seen a singer at the top of his game deliver a master class in how to deliver songs it is likely that the audience will all be back for more for many years to come. Sheer musical virtuosity, matched with an infectiously warm personality, this is one performer the audience would happily bring home.

Originally written for The Public Reviews

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