THE LEADING MEN: Ramin Karimloo, the London Star of Les Miz, The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies

By Mark Shenton
12 Jun 2012

Karimloo at the Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Concert
Photo by Dan Wooller
You spent a while trying to find a new musical for yourself by creating one out of the Houdini story. There's also a Broadway one in development; what happened to yours?
RK: It's been shelved now — to cut a long story short, a lot of time passed with nothing happening. The sad part is that there's material there, we've got the songs. We thought there was money there but it wasn't. Nearly two years have gone by since I first brought the team together. It's scary how fast time goes, but if what I set out to do with everyone happened then, we would be open by now!

But you've served your dues in the business and, as you know, things take time. RK: Yes, I've worked hard! I know now that when I get a challenge, I'm ready to work towards it, whereas before I felt that perhaps it would be out of my league! Now I know where to go to get the help I need. I take risks because I'm an actor — you never know what's happening next. What I chase is goals that I can make creative, and that make me a better actor — and I can have fun doing. I don't want to do a new show for the sake of doing it. If it's something I'm passionate about, I'll give it my best; if I'm not happy in a show, I'm going to be awful and doing a disservice to the show and to the director.

Karimloo and Sierra Boggess in Love Never Dies.
photo by PA Photos/Landov

Love Never Dies was a bit of a baptism of fire for you, wasn't it, in the way a new musical can get launched and derailed and re-launched.
RK: I had a great time with Love Never Dies — it was forever changing so it was never boring. The day I got nominated for the Olivier Award was the day that I phoned an acting coach — I told myself it's time to get better, to further my craft, because I didn't want to rest on any laurels. When I was asked if I'd stay for six more months at the end of my original contract, I decided to do it because I knew I could use it to re-inspire myself with the work, and I had a playground in which I could put my acting work into practice. It was also nice knowing that the show wasn't going to change anymore, so after what felt like 12 months of rehearsal I could actually enjoy the gig. I don't regret staying at all.

Would you like to do plays?
RK: I'd love to do Stanley in Streetcar Named Desire — and I now have enough faith in me to know that I can prepare for it. The first thing I ever did in Canada on stage was Lost in Yonkers — when I was 15, I played Jay Kurnitz, and it was great. I'd love to do plays for sure — it's not that I shied away from them, but once you're in a musical on a yearlong contract, a year of your life goes. I kept getting presented with opportunities that were challenging me. I wasn't chasing a paycheck — I've been chasing time to rest!



So now you're embarking on this new chapter in your career as a concert and recording artist.
RK: You can only do so much at one time. I've double-shifted for about two or three years now. I'm not leaving musical theatre, but I need to focus on one thing at a time more. This is a new venture, so I've got to put more focus on it. For ten years solid I've done musical theatre. I've not stopped, but I deserve a break, I think, and I think people want a break from me as well! But I also think I'm doing my best work now — I feel more free now than ever. I've had ten years of professional experience and served my apprenticeship. My learning is not over, but what's different to me is that my preparation is a lot different now — it's much more in-depth, so when I go into something, I'm not afraid to make mistakes.

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For details on Ramin Karimloo's North American tour dates, visit raminofficial.com, where you can also hear clips from his album.

(Mark Shenton is Playbill.com's London news correspondent. Follow his work in our International News section.)