Well, here’s the review I’d really been looking forward to writing (even though I had a fantastic night last time!!) the Les Mis WITH Alfie review!
As before, we’d gone to dinner, and wandered intoQueensfor just after 7 and as we were shown to our seats, Sophie and I were absolutely buzzing. This time, we were on the left side of the Dress Circle, which I think I preferred overall as I had a better view of facial expressions and the like, which really enhanced how much I enjoyed certain scenes compared to the last time, in particular the one where JVJ pinned Javert to the wall with the rifle (how angry and awesomely bitter does Hadley look just then??!!)
I also enjoyed sitting that side because I had a clearer view of the orchestra pit: I knew when to brace myself for the louder gunshots in the barricade scenes because they had their fingers in theirs ears!
We loved listening to the orchestra warm up, and soon enough… the lights dimmed and I could only think one thing: ‘I’m about to watch my favourite musical with Alfie Boe. Alfie Boe! This is the stuff the coolest kinds of dreams are made of.’
From the moment he opened his mouth to sing I couldn’t take my eyes off him, nor did I want to.
As we know, Alfie can sing wonderfully but I realised last night that I can appreciate how wonderfully only after seeing him live. I was struck by how ‘in touch’ he seemed to be with the character of Jean Valjean; the shame and torture he goes through when being rejected from work and thrown from the inn. After the latter incident, he kneeled down and wept, and I found myself getting choked up too. Having had that happen so early on certainly set the theme for the rest of the evening I can tell you!
There were lots of little gestures and details from Alfie that I really loved, like when he cradles the dying Fantine in his arms and kisses her on the forehead. Queue another quiet (ish!) squeak of anguish from me.
I mentioned in my last review how Chris Jacobson delivered a favourite scene with his encounter with Cosette and bargaining with the Thénardiers, and Alfie made sure that this scene will forever be a favourite. I think the fact I knew he is a father himself really helped, I squirmed with delight when he held his arms out to dance with Cosette, or when he touched her nose playfully as he sang the line: ‘Cosette shall have a father now’ because I imagined that is how he is with Grace.
Oh, and the Confrontation?! Amazing, both from Hadley and Alfie. Finally I got to hear it the way I’d been waiting to for what felt like forever.
Now, a little love for Cameron Blakely. Now I mean no disrespect to Matt Lucas (I enjoyed his performance very much) but I must say I prefer Cameron’s take on the role, which probably has to do with my own sense of humour: Matt’s Thénardier went more for the overt kind of funny and slapstick humour, whereas Cameron’s went more subtle with it. He made me feel uncomfortable, but in a kind of ‘guy you love to hate’ way which is what I think Thénardier needs.
Craig and Alexia have improved loads, and definitely seemed more self assured in their performances and seem to know their characters a lot more. More on them later!
The best moment of the first half for me happened as ‘One Day More’ ended. After everybody sang an absolute blinder, the room erupted into explosive applause, and I was whooping and clapping like a maniac. At one point, Sophie leant in close and pointed Alfie out: he was looking up at me and beaming, he obviously enjoyed my enthusiasm.
As the lights went up for interval, all I could say was: ‘Oh my GOD. Did I really just watch that? That was awesome!’
I just noticed last time I gave Hadley a whole paragraph to himself, but that’s a little unnecessary now: I love him as Javert. Y’all know I do. So does he. Needless to say, he was just as amazing and growly and menacing as ever.
I loved how, at the end: everyone was cheering and some booed him (good naturedly of course) and he lapped it up, and I could be heard yelling: ‘LOVE YOU HADLEY!!’
Second half highlight was most definitely ‘Bring Him Home.’ I had another ‘Oh my God am I really here watching this?’ moment with some of the most intense goose bumps I’ve ever experienced. The atmosphere was so awe inspiring – you could hear a pin drop. I wept like a baby!
Another favourite was Craig & Alexia’s ‘A Little Fall of Rain’. I spoke earlier about how much more they seemed to know their characters, and it definitely showed here especially: I really ‘felt’ their connection and they sang with such emotion and passion that I got choked up.
When the show came to the long dreaded last scene, Alfie had me weeping again. I was so moved that I didn’t want those final lyrics to be sung. Alas, you know what they say about good things……
Stage Door anyone?
It was infinitely more quiet than it was last time, which I found strange. Looking back on it though, it was a blessing! Hadley apparently escaped out front so I missed him sadly, but we said a brief hello/ congratulations to Adam (who was a fantastic Grantaire) and chatted a while with the lovely Craig Mather who was very sweet and funny. I told him that he was even better than last time.
‘Oh yeah? Thanks! When did you see it last?’
‘Oh! I think we’re all a bit more settled now, don’t you? It was all a bit ‘Aaaagh!’ panic and nerves still back then!’
We laughed before I thanked him again, and he wandered off with a lovely shy smile.
We had to wait a while longer for the man himself, but I didn’t mind the fact it was chilly and late, I was running on adrenaline still. Alfie gave everyone waiting time to talk with him at length and take photos and I smiled warmly to myself: ‘N’aww, he’s a chatterbox! I love it.’
We had a sweet moment even before he got to me: just before he took a photo with the lady up from me, he caught my eye and waved, showing off that killer smile again. I think I may have blushed just a bit!
Having now met all three of my fave West End gents, I have learned that I need to be more prepared for the introduction: Alfie was four strides away from me and the next I’m being hugged by him, he didn’t give me time to open my arms and hug him back! Before he drew back though, I did land a quick kiss on his cheek (score!!) and was struck by how soft and not scratchy his beard was.
‘Hello beautiful!’ (Queue me swooning MAJORLY)
‘Hi there Alfie, how are you?’
‘I’m good thanks darling! Did you enjoy it?
‘Oh yes, was a joy to see you finally! I missed you last time…
(Queue a sheepish looking Alfie) ‘Oh, was I off? My apologies!’
‘Oh don’t be daft it’s OK, you can’t help being ill!’
He grinned, and I smiled as I noticed his eyes light up (no exaggeration, they genuinely do twinkle)
‘So, you cheered lots then?’
‘Of course! I think you noticed at one point, you looked up in my direction!’
(He and I started laughing)
‘Aww, bless you darling! By the way, is that a rose?’
(I nod; he did a little ‘yes! Get in THERE!’ gesture to himself)
By this point he had taken my Les Mis DVD and was scribbling away, he asked my name and everything!
‘So, tour up next, huh?’
‘Yep, you coming to any dates?’
‘Ah, first night! I’m going to be a bit nervous then y’know! But it should be a fun night!’
‘Oh bless you; you won’t need to be nervous!’
(Another killer smile from the man himself, as I continued) ‘I’ll see you then at the VIP!’
‘You’re VIPING? (the eyes lit up again) Thankyou sweetheart! You’ll have your T-shirt and program then, the soundcheck too!
‘Oh yeah, can’t wait!’
We asked him if he’d pose for a picture with us, and I loved him so much as he managed to help convince Sophie (who hadn’t said a word and was moving shyly away so Alfie could get in closer) to pose with us: ‘Of course! No no no, get in here!’
We said our thanks, and Alfie gave me another cuddle and a kiss!
‘See you soon Kerrie!’
He remembered my name already. I think that’s a job well done.