Alfie Boe wants to play Tina Turner

Ahead of his UK tour, the performer discuss superstitions, Strictly, and the show he believes should never have left the West End

Alfie Boe is one of those performers fastened so completely into the fabric of UK theatre that the last twenty years of the West End would have looked completely different without him. His multiple successful musical projects – both solo and with his friend and singing partner Michael Ball – have earned him a legion of international fans and an OBE for his services to music. This summer, Boe is back on tour, taking An Evening With Alfie Boe across the country throughout June and early July.

Ahead of the tour, we got stuck in a lift with Boe to discuss his favourite song  to sing live, a possible Strictly Come Dancing appearance, and how he deals with Michael Ball’s theatrical superstitions.

Alfie Boe - Run (Live from The O2)

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?

You, of course!

Right answer!

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?

Oh my goodness, I don’t know. I would automatically probably say Michael Ball because I spend so much time with him anyway, but I won’t. Oh, my goodness, I don’t know… Maybe one of my sisters, because they’re all my sisters and they treated me like a little baby when I was a kid.

Do you think you’d cope well being stuck in a lift?

Not with my sisters! They’d tease me like crazy.

What’s your favourite song to sing live?

That’s so hard. There’s a number of songs that I love to sing live. I’ll probably just have to say ‘Bring Him Home’ because it does get an incredible reaction from the crowd every time I sing it.

Speaking of Les Mis, you played a very famous thief in that show a number of times. Have you ever stolen anything?

Oh, my goodness. Where do you get these questions from? Maybe a beermat from a bar?

You’d be surprised the things people admit to me.

I’m not telling you a thing…

Bring Him Home, Les Misérables | Alfie Boe and The Tabernacle Choir

In 2022, you made an appearance on Love Island. Do you have a guilty pleasure reality TV show?

Actually, I have to say I did put on Big Brother the other day for the first time ever. And I was watching it, and I was gradually getting hooked in. And then I thought, I have to stop this, this is weird, I shouldn’t be doing this. And I did drag myself away from the TV and stopped watching it. I was just wanting to see the characters that were on it. I have a friend who’s gone into the house, Marisha Wallace, and I watched her for a little bit. But as far as reality shows go, I don’t really have a guilty pleasure.

If you had to make another reality TV appearance, is there a show you could see yourself doing?

Oh, my word, I would do Strictly if I had the opportunity. If it’s always a really difficult time of the year for me because I’m either bringing an album out or on the road touring. But if I got the chance to perform on Strictly, I would do that.

Who would you want to play you in a film about your life?

Brad Pitt. But I’d probably end up with Danny DeVito.

Do either of them sing?!

I don’t think so. Danny definitely doesn’t. I tell you who I do admire as an actor and who I wouldn’t mind playing me: Ed Norton. Maybe he can play me one day. Maybe not. He’s probably got better things to play.

With the last live show you went to watch?

I can’t say my own, can I?

I mean, you can…

That’s pretty much it then!

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

I worked for a newspaper just outside my hometown, trying to sell space in the paper for businesses to advertise in. It was the worst, most tedious, boring job that I’ve ever done in my life. I was literally on the phone trying to convince people to advertise in our newspaper. I think I lasted for two weeks doing that job, and that was it, I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore.

Were you any good at it?

Terrible. Nobody wanted to buy a spot in the paper with me.

Alfie Boe - Wicked Game (Official Video)

What would you say your proudest achievement to date is?

I mean, musically, I could say Les Mis, obviously I was very proud of that, and performing for Her Majesty the Queen. But I think personally, I’d say I’m proud of becoming a father. Having my kids and seeing them grow. They’re getting older. They’re really lovely kids now.

Do you have any superstitions?

I say I don’t. But if I see one magpie on the street, I’ll always say, “Good morning, Your Honor. How’s your missus?” So that’s a bit of a superstition I suppose. As far as going on stage though, no, I don’t have any dressing room superstitions or anything like that. I don’t put my shoes in the same place in the room every day or anything like that. I always try and mix it up. It’s always going to be a different show, you know, so I’d need a new superstition for each show!

I imagine you’ve worked with people who’ve been superstitious before.

Very much so. I mean, my singing partner Michael is probably the most superstitious guy out there. He does put his clothes in the right place and his shoes in the right area in the room and he follows his certain routine. He’s very much into that.

Does he involve you in any of those superstitions?

He does. He doesn’t like whistling in a theatre. There’s a reason for that, and the reason is the crew in theatre used to be sailors, they were seafaring guys. So after they’d come in from the sea, to continue working, they’d get work in the theatre because they knew how to rig scenery with the ropes and things. They used to communicate on board ships by whistling to each other to bring in a sail, and so whistling backstage is really bad because it orders somebody to bring in a piece of scenery when it shouldn’t be coming in. That’s Michael’s superstition. To sort of neutralise that, he tells you to go out the room, spin around three times, spit and swear, and then knock on the door and ask to be let back in… He’s got me at a point where now if I do whistle by accident, I automatically leave the room and do what he says. It’s just easier than arguing with him.

Alfie Boe & Michael Ball 'The Prayer' 02 Arena London 14.12.17 HD

Is there a musical that you’d love to see back on the West End at some point?

West Side Story. I think that’s one that should never, never be off stage. It’s such a wonderful musical to have in the catalogue of performances, especially in England as well. It’s such an iconic show. I don’t know why it’s not on the stage right now. It’s such a such a wonderful piece.

What was the first live performance that you saw growing up?

Well, I mean, as a small kid I used to go to the pantomimes. Those were probably the first things I ever remember seeing. Then gradually as I got older, I would go to rock concerts with my brothers and sisters, or I’d go to a musical. I think the first musical I saw was Buddy, about Buddy Holly. Then I saw Cats, and it was fascinating to see a live show like that. I found it amazing.

Is there a role that you’re completely the wrong cast for, but you’d love to have a go at?

I think purely for the music element of it, Tina. I mean, her catalogue of music is incredible. Obviously I’ll never get to play that role.

Yeah, that would be a surprise casting.

I think the main reason is because I don’t have the same hairstyle that she has. That’s probably it.

An Evening With Alfie Boe will be touring the UK from 30 May. Find tickets here.

Photo credit: Dave J Hogan / Getty