The Gleb Club
by Loy Bernal Carlos
THE REMARKABLE RISE OF RAMIN KARIMLOO
Even in New York City where the theater scene is fertile with talented performers, this Broadway leading man presents a rare gift, like that box of decadent truffles without cherry or coconut filling.
In Ramin Karimloo is the complete package: smoldering, rugged good looks that make even villains and phantoms dreamy; a hard-earned, well-sculpted body that brings GQ appeal to Hugo (Victor, not Boss); a natural acting ability that comes from a deep, personal desire to tell a character’s story in an authentic manner à la Daniel Day Lewis; and a mesmerizing voice that soars like an eagle–graceful yet powerful, smooth, gentle, and fierce.
His performances of any passionate song but particularly those of The Phantom or Valjean, for example, are subtle as morning dew, if not knee-wobblingly seductive. And when he lets “the Phantom rip–what fans call his unleashing of the awe-inspiring force that seem to launch from the belly of his soul, rocketing to celestial infinity–it is enough to make many a grown man weep.
He has arrived full circle from that fateful day when another Phantom enchanted the singer to the brink of tears.
Tony and Olivier Award nominee Ramin Karimloo has been attracting die-hard followers like Broadway’s American Idol. And while there are a handful of other very popular, contemporary theatrical leading men, not many have the same fervent fan base that spans the globe. His ardent supporters are everywhere–from North and South America to Europe and Asia. On Instagram alone, he has close to 170,000 people anticipating his every photo and video post. His Facebook following exceeds 100,000.
And like him, they don’t all fall neatly into a stereotype. Some are avid theatergoers, some are not. Most have seen him either on London’s West End or on Broadway. Then there are those who have never seen him perform live at all, but admit to actively awaiting every YouTube post and saving them! For Raminites (or is that Raminions??)–let’s just call it The Gleb Club for now–the day starts, the day ends, time crawls by till they hear him sing.
Others were lucky enough to watch him, at BB King’s in NYC or similar venue, perform a repertoire of Broadway favorites mixed with his own brand of music he dubbed, “Broadgrass”– a stylistic mashup up of two of his passions: Broadway and bluegrass.
London and Broadway original Jean Valjean, Colm Wilkinson, recalls advising a young Ramin not to listen only to theater music. This suggestion combined with his own natural curiosity allowed Ramin to cultivate a wide interest in music. Still some have influenced him a great deal more than others. And those are his favorites.
“I grew up on bands like The Tragically Hip and Johnny Cash,” explains the artist. “I always loved their sound. I think it’s honest. I love the whole “grassroots” sound they have, so that’s something that I wanted to take and make my own.” He is also keen on The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. Of his own music, he particularly enjoys singing “Traveler’s Eyes.”