Inspiring a new generation of future musical stars is just one of the perks of the job for Alfie Boe.
Back in July, the cast of a youth theatre production of Les Miserables, the show which made Alfie a household name, landed themselves in Twitter ‘jail’ for bombarding the singer and the social media website with thousands of messages.
The teenagers from MyUK Blackpool were so determined in their hashtag campaign #GetAlfieBoeToOurShow that the star has invited them to join him on the Liverpool leg of his forthcoming tour at the city’s Echo Arena.
“Their Twitter campaign was crazy, wonderful and very, very sweet,” he said.
“I heard about it when I was in America, but I couldn’t believe the effort they had gone to.
“I couldn’t make the show but I have seen their video and been able to invite them to Liverpool.”
Joking if he needed extra security on that night, Alfie added: “I’m hoping they’ll be very professional and I’m sure they will be.
“I want them to come on stage and experience playing a place like that and singing for their supper.”
Alfie himself started singing as a teenager with local theatre companies, including Thornton Cleveleys Operatic Society.
And after dropping a career as a mechanic at TVR - where a customer heard him singing and suggested he go professional - he’s gone on to perform in the West End, on Broadway, for Olympians, and for the Queen as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.
Earlier this year, he even made his prime time TV acting debut, appearing in the popular series Mr Selfridge as ‘famed’ tenor Richard Chapman.
Now ‘nearly 30 years’ on from his own am dram days, how does Alfie feel to be a hero for aspiring performers?
“I never forget those days of being on the stage and count my blessings that I’m still here doing what I do now,” he said.
“I love my job, being able to perform, putting music out there and the excitement of producing an album and a show. “It’s all fun to me.
“I’m sure if I can help these kids by bringing them up on stage some will have the encouragement to go down a similar career path and have that spark to make a living from it.
“If I can do that, I know I’m doing something good.
“It’s quite strange to be in the position I’m in, to look back at my life and see where I came from; it’s romantic in a way.”
This month will see Alfie make an albeit brief return to where he came from, when he promotes new album Serenata, released on November 17, with a CD signing at Blackpool’s HMV store the day after.
Serenata sees Alfie’s journey through musical genres continue, after previous albums took in classical opera, musical theatre and rock legends.
This time, though, he’s meandering through the streets, taking on the role of an Italian busker.
“I have been listening to these songs over the years from Italian pop singers of every generation,” he said.
“It’s all very romantic. It’s not so much classical or folk really - it’s romantic. They’re exciting, vibrant and romantic songs.
“I’ve always wanted to record these songs in a simple way, the way they were played originally by street performers.”
Serenata - meaning ‘to sing in your honour’. certainly seems to tick the romantic box, including tracks such as My Heart Is Yours from film Il Positino, Buona Sera and Volare, as well as lighter notes in the spirited Mambo Italiano.
“I’m always drawn back to this area of music, I think because its spontaneous.
“The songs themselves are simple but about the biggest and most important things; love, loss, journeying away, coming home, family, living life.
In Italy, this music is just in the people, a part of everyday life. It inspires the young and old, to dance and sing together – it makes a bridge between generations.
“And it reminds me of sharing happy times together with family and friends. Singing these songs makes me feel a part of something good.”
Fans heading to Alfie’s tour dates, Sunday, November 30 at Liverpool Echo Arena and Saturday, December 6 at Manchester Arena, will certainly be in for an atmospheric night if his production schedule goes to plan.
Following up his sell-out 2013 shows, which included two nights at the Royal Albert Hall, this 11-date tour will feature tracks from Serenata as well as some of his best loved songs from previous recordings, all set against a romantic backdrop.
For the first time, Alfie’s taken full responsibility for the design and direction of his tour, with the aim of recreating the Italian streets along which he will wander on stage.
“What I’m trying to do with the tour is make it a very atmospheric, romantic scene,” he said.
“I have an idea of putting into the arena the ambient sounds of Italian street life; waves crashing, people shouting and crackly records playing.
“And I’m even going to pump the air with the scents of flowers and things like that, I hope. We have got old fashioned lights, instead of the vibrancy of modern lighting that you get today.
“I’m going to try to take people back to that era of the 1920s to 1940s.
“It’s important to try to have your own version of the show represented, with concepts and ideas. It makes me feel better that the music and visuals are linking together.
“I have tried to develop this tour myself, with listening to others’ ideas, but the overall look, feel and style has been my own.
“I have always wanted to have my own say and to out across my own interpretation of the show but this is the first time and it’s something new for me.
“I have always had the ideas but never had the opportunity to have them materialise.
“Being approached for this show, I think people were quite surprised that I had ideas I had.
“I have really enjoyed directing and designing the tour. It’s my show and I want it to represent me as an artist.”
Although recent years have seen Alfie spend perhaps more time in his Utah, USA, home than the UK, he’s certain that this remains home for him - even if visits to the Fylde are few and far between.
Even when he’s touring in the UK, visits home - his mum Pat and siblings (he’s the youngest of nine) still live in Fleetwood - are ‘difficult’.
“I finish a show and am ushered out of the theatre and driven to a hotel or the next venue as soon as I come off stage.
“You’re in a routine, and a bit of a bubble, when you’re on tour, and fitting anything else in can be hard. You don’t want to mess up your role.
“This time, from Liverpool, I will try to get home if I have a day off the following day. I’m hoping to have a big Fleetwood audience there and in Manchester and I’ll bring them backstage after the show.”
He now spends around eight months a year back here, and the rest of his time in the States, with his actress wife Sarah and children joining him whenever possible.
“I have a house in America and a place here in the UK,” he said. “I have an American family as well.
“I still class the UK as home and it always will be; it’s where I grew up and it’s where my heart is, although I love America and enjoy my time there.
“My children are still young enough to come out of school at the moment - although convincing the teachers of that can sometimes be difficult.”
Although Alfie has previously said a return to musical theatre, of the Les Mis kind, might not be a likely career move, his plans for 2015 sound exciting - and an announcement will be made in the near future, as well as hopes to record a sixth studio album.
“There are a couple of projects coming up, one of which is soon to be announced which I can’t say much about.
“It’s going to take up the majority of next year.
“I can say it’s music-related and will be a return to the stage and I’m very excited about it. It’s something which will be very enjoyable for me to do.”
* See Alfie Boe at HMV Blackpool in Bank Hey Street on Tuesday, November 18 at noon, signing copies of Serenata. Visit www.gigsandtours.com for tour tickets.