West End star Ramin Karimloo puts his own stamp on bluegrass in Horsham

If you want to find out what Broadgrass is, pop along to Ramin Karimloo's show at The Capitol in Horsham on Friday, January 27 (www.thecapitolhorsham.com or 01403 750220).

Thursday, 26th January 2017, 2:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th January 2017, 2:33 pm
Ramin Karimloo. Picture by Nicole Mago

West End and Broadway performer and musical innovator Ramin and his Broadgrass Band will show exactly what you get when you put Broadway and bluegrass together.

Olivier and Tony Award nominee Ramin has played leading roles in both the West End’s longest-running musicals – The Phantom and Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera and Jean Valjean, Enjolras, and Marius in Les Misérables. He also originated the role of the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies and made his Broadway debut as Valjean in the 2014 revival production of Les Misérables.

The band builds on the musical theatre repertoire and gives it a new twist.

“It just happened organically really when I was first signed to a major label and started writing songs and trying to figure who I was as an artist outside of theatre. We did the thing of trying to move away from theatre and being original. Every artist has hits or wants to have hits. But I realised that those hits were actually the shows, and I was grateful that the fans came along for the ride. I play bluegrass and country and wanted to put my stamp on things.

“I thought on the first night of the show ‘Let’s just make the night around the music, just a guitar and a mic.’ I remember the response, how the fans loved it. You get to know the songs as being fully orchestrated, but I don’t want to pretend that I am Phantom on stage. It’s me, and I give them songs that they love and let them hear them for the first time again because they are hearing them presented differently.

“I think what becomes clear is that a great song is a great song. You stop labelling them. You don’t have to say this is a musical-theatre song, this one is a cover and so on. They are just all great songs, and we have expanded the repertoire with every new song.”

And so the Broadgrass label crept in – and stuck: “After nine months I was in Japan, and through the translator the interviewer asked ‘When is Broadgrass arriving in Japan?’ But I don’t want to take it seriously, but at the same time I am very proud of the shows.

“I am looking forward to taking our show on the road for an extended run, especially here in the UK. It’s been a few years since I’ve been able to go around the country. These will be the only UK dates before I head off back to Broadway to open the premiere of Anastasia.”

The songs Ramin performs all tell stories, regardless of their origin.

“Over the past four years we have organically developed a unique, rootsy sound which we are all very excited about. Featuring the passionate drama of musical theatre hits, original songs and covers that mean something to us in the band, it’s an eclectic show. But it’s all about the stories in the songs.”

Expect songs including: ‘Bring Him Home’, ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ and ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Morning’.

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