BWW Interview: Ramin Karimloo Reflects on The Avett Brothers, His Friendship with Joe Kwon, and Working with Andrew Lloyd Webber in Advance of His Raleigh Benefit Concert
It might surprise theater fans that Tony-nominated Ramin Karimloo's playlist includes an eclectic mix of Colm Wilkinson, the alt-rock band The Tragically Hip, and North Carolina's own, The Avett Brothers. But Karimloo says for him there is a common thread that ties his favorite genres of music altogether.
"I just love to tell stories where words are not enough to just say, where the emotion is too strong, and you have to sing," he says. "I think with songs from theatre, bluegrass, etcetera, there's a lot of emotion in the story."
"That's why in my shows the gap between these genres are not as far apart as it seems on paper," he adds. "I'm grateful that I get a chance to crossover and sing such an eclectic mix."
And it's that eclectic mix that audiences can expect to hear when Karimloo joins The Avett Brothers' cellist Joe Kwon for a concert benefitting The Frankie Lemmon School and Development Center next month.
Karimloo first met The Avett Brothers after Kwon heard Karimloo's cover of "Greatest Sum" online. Kwon reached out to Karimloo via Twitter and the two communicated virtually for over a year before meeting up in New York. Karimloo says from that moment on their friendship solidified and grew.
"Joe is a one of a kind human being, as are the Avetts for that matter," he says. "His passion for things is utterly infectious."
This week Karimloo wraps up his run as Che in the Tokyu Theatre Orb production of EVITA in Japan. Of course, he is no stranger to the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Karimloo not only spent three years performing in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in London's West End, first as Raoul and then in the title role, but he was also handpicked by Webber to reprise the role of the Phantom in LOVE NEVER DIES, the sequel to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Karimloo says Webber has played a huge role in his life and continues to inspire and intrigue him.
"On LOVE NEVER DIES we spent a long time together, in the studio, in the rehearsal space, in the theatre," he says.
"My working relationship with him was never dull, to say the least," he adds. "Andrew is very passionate and is without a doubt a genius."
And Karimloo says while he's moved on to playing other roles, including that of Jean Valjean in the Broadway revival of LES MISERABLES in 2014 and Gleb in ANASTASIA in 2017, he may not be done with the Phantom yet.
"I wouldn't mind another stint as the Phantom now that I'm older and hopefully wiser," he adds. "Jury is still out on whether I'm wiser or not."
Once EVITA closes, Karimloo looks forward to meeting up with his old friend Kwon in Raleigh. This is his second year performing with Kwon to support the Frankie Lemmon School, which provides life-changing, inclusive education and support to children ages three to five years old with and without disabilities.
"Our last show was just a riot, so much fun and so intimate," he says. "It was amazing seeing fans from the theatre world connect with fans of the Avetts and supporters of the Frankie Lemmon School all connect over great music."
"All that matters is that if we can help, then we must help," he adds. "Seeing what the support does for the children and their families is just incredible."
Karimloo will perform with Kwon as part of The Triangle Wine Experience on August 5th at Kings in Raleigh. Tickets start at $125. For more information visit:
To hear Karimloo perform his cover of The Avett Brothers' "Greatest Sum" with Joe Kwon visit: