BWW Interview: Ramin Karimloo on His Toronto Homecoming in LES MISERABLES in Fall of 2013
To be honest I don't find Bring Him Home necessarily that difficult of a song. It's a beautiful prayer and I don't feel that it's a struggle because I love that moment in the show. It's quite intimate. Then again, I'm not listening for vocal discrepancies. I don't think about the 'sing' that Valjean demands of an actor. Instead I try and focus on the story that I'm telling.
In a way, modern shows ask more from than voice than it is built for. Six to eight shows a week is a lot to ask of the vocal chords, but they are also more resilient than we give them credit for. On long runs a voice will never be one hundred percent every night, but it's not about that. As for preserving, every actor is different. For me I find that good diet, exercise and a decent amount of rest is essential. And eliminating stress trumps everything.
The Les Miserables journey has taken you many places and is now taking you to the Academy Awards - what has been the highlight for you so far?
The highlight will probably still be the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2. It was the most fun I've ever had and was amazing to work with so many friends. All of us who were there were fans of the show and came together to celebrate a brilliant occasion and take a part in the show's history. To be asked to perform as Enjolras was a real honour. To sing live in an arena was such a rush and then when it streamed live around the world it was so powerful. It felt like everything was watching together and in that moment we were all doing something for the same reason - to celebrate a show we love.
You perform a lot of solo material as well as record music with your band Sheytoons, what is the biggest difference between being in a production like Les Miserables and doing your own music? How do you approach it differently as a performer?
I'm not really sure. When writing music you are telling a story. The tough part initially is coming to terms with the fact that the character in that story is me. Sharing things like that are not easy and putting it in front of people is quite daunting. That said, I've had a lot of fun and the tours have been going really well. I love the range of places I've been able to play, from the Royal Festival Hall to Little Lake in Peterborough, to BB Kin's in New York and the Pleasant Grove Performing High School in Texerkana. So eclectic. I wouldn't trade one for the other and all have had experiences I will never forget. But it all comes down to the same thing, whether as a character on stage or learning about myself in my songs, I always strive to find the truth and hope it lands.
Since you will be in Toronto for an extended period of time, is there a chance Torontonians will get to see some of your solo and Sheytoon material?
I sure hope so! The problem is the vocal demands of the role of Valjean which we discussed previously. As long as I stay healthy it should be fine, but I'm not sure I should empty the tank by putting on folk shows on the side. Maybe when my run as Valjean is over I'll book some venues and put on my new style of concerts which has adopted the music style called 'Broadgrass'. That name originated from the title of some of my concerts - Broadway to Bluegrass. It sounds as crazy as it is but it's so much fun. Nothing like kissing theatre songs with folk and bluegrass and then whispering some theatre into traditional folk music. It is wonderful to find a way to combine all that I've grown up with.
Were you aware of the social media 'campaign' which was circulating called #BringRaminHome? It was local fans who wanted to see you as Valjean. Do you think that social media has become an invaluable tool for marketing or more of a necessary evil?
That's funny and quite nice but I didn't know about it to be honest. I'm on twitter but a reluctant user most of the time. It can be evil if you allow it to be. I certainly don't think an artist has an obligation to be on twitter. People should like your work for what they see - so for that reason I try not to follow a lot of the actors that I respect and look up to. I'm not even sure if they are on social media. I figure, the less I know about them the better because I want to see and enjoy their films and the characters that they play. It's their talent that I'm interested in.
With that said I don't use twitter to tweet much more than showing my supporters my gratitude and as a way to keep those interested updated on tour or work info. And of course now I can use it to tell them about Les Miserables! Other than that, I try not to give much away on twitter. I like to keep things positive - life is hard enough and there are already enough critics out there! *laughs*
What role would be on your musical theatre bucket list? Is there one character you would like to tackle at some point in your career above all else?
I'd love to play 'Guido' in Nine in a couple of years and 'Guy' in Once would be a lot of fun and a big challenge. Other than that, as much as I look for new work because creating is fun, I just want to do roles that I know I will have fun doing. I don't try and strategize too much because I figure that if I'm having fun then I will probably do my best work - and that is a good place to be.
Who would you say have been your biggest musical influences?
The Tragically Hip without a doubt, The Avett Brothers, Johnny Cash, Mumford and Sons and I'm a big fan of Alison Krauss and Union Station. Colm Wilkinson was a big influence too. The most soulful and unique voice in musical theatre and he is a true gentleman who after meeting him and befriending him has not burst the bubble of being a role model for me. Just like when I met the Tragically Hip. It's nice to still remain a fan after all these years and have the perception and mystique stay the same.
Finally, what are most looking forward to about being back in Toronto?
Being able to readily see my friends and folks. It's been a while since I could just sit down whenever I can to have lunch with my Dad or Mom. Hopefully reconnect with my ol' high school pals like Scott McGillivray and play some shinny with my Brother, Constable Karimloo. Maybe finally teach him how to ride a Harley so he can join me on a ride up North or something!
For more information on the Toronto engagement of Les Miserables or to purchase a 2013-2014 subscription please visit www.mirvish.com or call 416-593-4225.