How Ramin Karimloo Predicted He Would Be the Youngest Phantom Ever

Seth Rudetsky   How Ramin Karimloo Predicted He Would Be the Youngest Phantom Ever
 
This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth shares stories of how Karimloo got his start and how Jenna Russell played Eponine in Les Misérables without being a member of the cast.
Ramin Karimloo
Ramin Karimloo Roberto Araujo

Hello from the beautiful and I mean beautiful Norwegian Fjords. I’m on the Celebrity Silhouette and like Sondheim’s “Every Day A Little Death,” it’s “Every Day Another Stunning Vista.” I can’t tell you how gorgeous it is!

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Today, James and I were able to see a lot of countryside because we rented electronic bikes, which are amazing. You pedal them but you’re assisted by an electronic motor. So, if you’re going uphill and you don’t have the energy/ don’t want to exert yourself/ can’t be bothered doing anything physical, the bike motor propels the bike for you. It’s like a jazzy but in bike form. Anyhoo, my first show on the boat was with Ramin Karimloo and it was amazing. He basically just sang non-stop 11 o’clock numbers and/or showstoppers: “Music of the Night,” “Bring Him Home,” “Make Them Hear You,” “Til I Hear You Sing,” etc. You have to come see us when we’re in London October 5 and 6. For tickets, visit LeicesterSquareTheatre.com or call 020 7734 2222.

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Ramin told us that he’s from Iran, but his family escaped in the ’70s when he was an infant and moved to Italy. Naturally, they then moved to a rural town in Canada. Huh? Anyhoo, he didn’t know anything about musicals while he was growing up, but, when he was 14, his school went to see The Phantom Of The Opera. Before the show began, the show had a presentation where they interactively taught teens how theatre works and he wound up being one of the three kids called onstage. One of the kids was used to demonstrate things about about the set, one about costumes and he was the one used for sound. They had him sing “I am your angel of music…” to demonstrate how the mics work. Such weird foreshadowing of his career beecuase, after he saw the show (which he loved), he told his school friend that he was not only going to the play the Phantom one day, but he would be the youngest ever to play the role. Twelve years later, it happened! I asked if his friend knew, so Ramin told us the story about the big reveal to his friend: When the show begins, the Phantom is still getting into makeup. So, on his opening night as the youngest Phantom, while he was in his makeup chair, he called that friend with the overture playing in the background to prove he had made his prediction come true!

Ramin Karimloo in <i>The Phantom of the Opera </i>at Royal Albert Hall
Ramin Karimloo in The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall Alastair Muir

He then wound up being cast in the 25th anniversary concert (opposite Sierra Boggess). Watch here!

Ramin told us that his professional career began when he was 18 and he got cast on a cruise ship. He arrived for rehearsal and found out he was hired to be one of two dancers! I can’t quite understand how that happened but he said that at the audition, there was a guy in front of him dancing really well and Ramin tried to copy what he was doing…and apparently he copied it really well. He remembers when they were told to do a double pirouette and he frantically asked the other dancer what that was. The guy told him to “spin around two times.” Regardless, a few days in, the lead singer had to drop out. The director remembered Ramin could sing and asked if he wanted to take over. He asked how much dancing there was. They told him there was NO dancing and it paid more money. Well, he took that job quicker than you can spin around twice. He is so thankful for the singer dropping out at that particular time because they were about to begin rehearsing the big tap number and he knows that would have really outed him for not knowing anything about dance. Ramin made a great guest appearance in my Obsessed! featuring Keala Settle hitting crazy high notes. Take a gander:

I also did a show onboard with Olivier Award winner Jenna Russell, who is so talented. She just finished playing the mom in Fun Home, a role she really wanted. As a matter of fact, she was one of the stars of East Enders (a British TV show/nightly soap that’s been on for around 30 years) and renewed her contract…but then heard that Fun Home was coming to London. She auditioned, got the role of the mom and got out of the East Enders contract. Actually, no. She asked her agent to get her out of her contract before she even auditioned! She literally left her TV show hoping she’d get an audition and then the role. What if she hadn’t gotten been cast? Unless… she somehow knew she was going to get it? Why is everyone I work with psychically able to predict what parts they’ll have in the future?

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Jenna Russell Marc Brenner

Jenna’s first big show was Les Miz where she was in the ensemble and understudied Eponine. She loved it but she never went on for Eponine. Four years later (!), they called and told her that the woman playing Eponine was sick and the understudy wasn’t feeling well. They wanted to know if she’d be willing to go on if the understudy couldn’t. She asked who the understudy was and when she heard, she knew that woman would definitely go on because she never missed. So Jenna said yes, she would go on if she had to, but she knew she wouldn’t have to. That afternoon, she went out shopping with her mom and they went to dinner around 6PM. She ordered a pint, as they say in Britain, and then Jenna thought she better check in with Les Miz, just to be responsible. She called to make sure she wasn’t on and they told she, indeed, was on. For the role of Eponine. A role she never performed. In a show she did four years ago. Her first thought was “I’d better not have that pint.” I asked how it went and shockingly, she said it went great and she had a fantastic time! There probably isn’t a specific British Equity rule for someone going on in a role who isn’t officially in the show anymore…and hasn’t been for four years….and won’t be going on again. So, at the end of the night, they just handed her an envelope with 200 quid in it and off she went! #YourMoneyIsOnTheDresser

The final thing I’ll say is that Chita Rivera is on the ship with us and she’s up to her ol’ sassafrass. We were having a sort of race to see who could actually walk on the ship first, and I won. Of course, she got her revenge. As we got on, there were fancy waiters dressed up, handing out cocktails. If you know me, you know I hate the taste of alcohol and never drink. Well, as I walked by the waiters holding the cocktails, she loudly told them, “He can’t drink.” Yay! Now they think I’m an alcoholic.

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In conclusion, I’m walking around the cruise trying to avoid standing side-by-side with Ramin. Not only is his body literally a walking advertisement for Cross Fit, but he’s constantly dressed in stunning fitted suits. Look at this random shot I have to deal with on a daily basis this week: him in a tailored wool suit and cashmere sweater, me in a Ptown sweatshirt over a red Lacoste shirt, which was popular when I was in high school.

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I’m out!

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