How We Met: Alfie Boe & Matt Lucas
'No disrespect to his singing, but the thing I most admire about him is his Yorkshire pud'
Sunday 12 December 2010
Matt Lucas, 36, is a comedian, screenwriter and actor, best known for his work with David Walliams in sketch show 'Little Britain'. He returns to BBC1 with Walliams this month in airport sitcom 'Come Fly with Me'. He lives in London.
We first met this summer when we were both to to appear in the Les Misérables 25th anniversary concert at the O2 Arena. I was the only member of the company who hadn't appeared in the show before so I had some extra rehearsals. One evening, I had a rehearsal with Alfie, who played Valjean, and Jenny Galloway, who played my wife. I arrived in the lobby and met this unassuming, hairy man; I nearly asked him if he'd seen Alfie Boe, as he was a lot shorter than I thought an opera tenor would be. When we got into rehearsal, I was so overcome that I was working with this amazing singer that I got a fit of the giggles and so did he, and we laughed our way through it.
We swapped email addresses and ended up hitting it off. When we met up one night to go and see Les Mis in the West End, we went for a Chinese meal beforehand, and found out we had a lot in common: we both love football, like the same TV and have an almost uncontrollable penchant for eating sweets. He's a big kid and so am I.
He's staying with me at the moment. He lives in Salt Lake City, but I knew he was going to be working here for a couple of months, and also how miserable it is to come off stage and go back to a hotel, so I asked him if he'd like to stay in my spare room. Living with him is like living with the Oxo mum: he cooks all the time and he's incredible at it. If I've gained weight, you can lay the blame solely at his feet. No disrespect to his singing, but the thing I most admire about him is his Yorkshire pud: it's worth getting diabetes for.
Whereas I'm overconfident, I think Alfie's under-confident, though he's blessed with this phenomenal talent. I remember during the Les Mis evening show he sang "Bring Him Home", which is one of the toughest songs in the show in terms of how high it goes, and he got a four-minute standing ovation. The show just stopped, and there's this point [in the live recording] where the camera focuses on him and you see him briefly break out of character and have a little chuckle, as if he can't quite believe this is happening.
He'll be up there with Andrea Bocelli before long. And you wouldn't wish it on a nicer guy: he's as sweet off stage as he is on.
Alfie Boe, 37, was a car mechanic before training as an opera singer. He has starred in numerous productions at the English National Opera and Royal Opera House, and in 2008 won a Tony award for his performance as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrmann's Broadway production of 'La Bohème'. His home is currently in Utah.
It was May or June when I met Matt, when we were brought into rehearsal for Les Misérables. Of course I knew him from TV and was a big fan of Little Britain. We were put together to rehearse the Bargain scene, which is one of the big moments in the show, and I have to be very firm and straight-laced. I knew I couldn't let his comic side rub off on me, but it was very difficult. There were a couple of moments when I just lost it because Matt was being funny and his mannerisms were incredible.
He's a lot funnier than I am, obviously, but we have a similar sense of humour. We both play the drums, and we're also into our cooking. I've done a lot for him recently: my cottage pie seems to be one of his favourites. Personality-wise, he's just a very quiet, calm guy: he's certainly not as loud as the characters he plays and he doesn't walk around like Marjorie Dawes!
He's a very generous fella, with his home, his time and his life. He's let me stay at his place for a few weeks, because my wife and daughter are in the States while we're in the process of relocating here. There are a couple of other people staying, too, and it's felt a bit like being a student again. We'll have great meals, and a sing-song round the piano, and Matt and I recently did this film of me singing "Nessun Dorma" in his kitchen. He did this little intro, then turned the camera round and I did my bit, and Matt's dog had a starring role as well. He posted it on YouTube and everybody picked up on it – that very night, in fact, somebody emailed me a clip of a spoof version somebody had done, impersonating us both.
Matt thinks he can't sing, but he's actually got a good voice, and I think he should do more. We recorded a duet together on my new album ["Impossible Dream", from the musical Man of La Mancha] and Matt was fantastic. He started off singing his lines with real power and oomph but decided he didn't like that and wanted it to be much calmer and more subtle, and that's the version we went with. His attention to detail is something I admire. He won't just say "OK, that's done"; he'll want to do it again, because he's always striving to improve.
If I had the opportunity to work with Matt again, I'd jump at the chance. We'd love to do some musicals together: I'm going back into Les Mis in the West End next year, and it would be great to play opposite him again at some point. Who knows, he might become a regular feature on albums – or we might do some more YouTube videos. Though it will take a pint and a bit of cottage pie first.
'Bring Him Home', Alfie Boe's fourth album, is released on Decca Records on 27 December
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