Currently starring on Broadway in “Funny Girl” as Nicky Arnstein, Ramin Karimloo took a weekend off from the show to perform at The Parker with Broadway musician Seth Rudetsky. Opening with the ballad “‘Til I Hear You Sing” from “Love Never Dies,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber sequel to “Phantom of the Opera,” Karimloo’s combination of classical tenor with contemporary pop/rock vocals cements his place in Lloyd Webber’s repertoire, having played the Phantom in the early 2000s.
Growing up in Peterborough, Ontario, Karimloo ventured into acting after being able to shadow Phantom actor Colm Wilkinson, who played in his hometown as a teenager. By the early 2000s, Karimloo began acting professionally while in the United Kingdom, with one of his earliest roles in “Sunset Blvd.’s” UK Tour as Artie Green and an understudy for leading man Joe Gillis. Belting the title song from the show, Karimloo displays an impressive vocal range. Throughout the night, the setlist peppered in tracks from the “leading man” musical theater genre with songs such as “If Ever I Would Leave You” from “Camelot” and “Evermore” from the recent “Beauty and the Beast” film that featured Josh Groban on the soundtrack.
Seated with an acoustic guitar at times, the singer’s folk-rock inclinations were on full display, strumming through “Ol’ Man River.” In a concert setting the Golden Age songs mesh well with Karimloo’s voice, as the singer’s more contemporary affectations make the songs feel in line with a cover of “Watch Over Us” by the folk band The Lone Bellow. The combination of singer-songwriter Americana and musical theater blended spectacularly with Karimloo performing two songs from “Big River,” the not-often mentioned, Tony-winning Best Musical of 1985 that adapted “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” for the stage.
While Karimloo opened the current Broadway revival of “Funny Girl,” the singer recalled a story of performing with Barbra Streisand on a record and live, reciting the line “Hello Gorgeous” to an audience finding it hilarious. Karimloo did not understand the reference, until Beanie Feldstein recited the iconic phrase in the first iteration of the show. As a leading man, the actor cites Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Robert De Niro in his leading man methodology. Singing “I Want to Be Seen With You” along with Seth as Fanny Brice in the duet, Karimloo’s charm is undeniable. In other recent work, Karimloo also performed as Anatoly in a benefit concert version of “Chess” where the performer belts the emotional ballad “Anthem” penned by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame.
Though some of his more recent theatrical credits such as Gleb in the musical adaptation of “Anastasia” and The Pirate King in a concert version of “Pirates of Penzance” may not have lent themselves to a scaled-down performance, Rudetsky and Karimloo saved the best for last with the actor’s turns as Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” and Erik, the Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera.” With both shows produced by Broadway and West End producer Cameron Mackintosh, Karimloo’s original run as “Phantom” in the early 2000s allowed him to perform as both Enjolras in the 25th Anniversary Concert starring alongside Nick Jonas as Marius. However, Karimloo would take on the role of Jean Valjean, the prisoner-turned-factory owner protagonist of “Les Miserables” in 2014 during the show’s Broadway revival. With Rudetsky taking on the more fitting foil of Javert, trying to coax laughter out of Karimloo, the singer’s belt unmistakably fits in the repertoire of classical and contemporary. Closing the main set with “Music of the Night” from “Phantom” the singer recalled himself manifesting being “the youngest actor to play the Phantom” to Mackintosh, which may feel like hubris but dramaturgically brings Karimloo’s charismatic sensibilities to the battered prodigy to a whole new level.
While the show “Company” took a gender-swapped turn in the late 2010s, Karimloo belted through a cover of “Being Alive,” an absolute show-stopping moment that sent the audience home with a feeling of resolve and hope. After the show, Ramin Karimloo announced the long-teased return to donning the mask and making the music of the night, opening the Italian production of “Phantom.” Beginning July 4 at the Teatro Stabile del Friuli Venezia Giulia in Trieste, Italy. Staged in English and directed by Federico Bellone, this will be the first time “Phantom” will ever be performed in Italy.
‘Til I Hear You Sing (Love Never Dies)
Hushabye Mountain (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)
Sunset Blvd. (Sunset Blvd.)
If Ever I Would Leave You (Camelot)
I Want to Be Seen With You (Funny Girl)
Empty Chairs at Empty Tables (Les Miserables)
Muddy Water (Big River)
Watch Over Us (Lone Bellow Cover)
Worlds Apart (Big River)
Evermore (Beauty and the Beast)
The Confrontation (Les Miserables)
Music of the Night (Phantom of the Opera)
Ol’ Man River (Show Boat)
Being Alive (Company)