RAMIN KARIMLOO & the Broadgrass Band – Touring

In Cabaret, Concerts, Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Vicky AndersonLeave a Comment

Edge Hill Arts Centre, Ormskirk – until 16 January 2017
Then touring

It was a cold, Monday January night in the unassuming market town of Ormskirk. What’s to do? Why, Broadway royalty dropping in on the local arts centre, of course. It still seems quite unbelievable that Edge Hill Arts Centre pulled off such a coup (they were rightfully delighted); something that only appeared in their listings mere days before the performance. Unexpectedly, Ramin Karimloo was in the house.

Karimloo, a Phantom and Les Mis heavyweight, happily shrugged off the ostentation of the musical theatre world to present his stripped-down take on the songs he loves, re-arranging them with an acoustic, countrified, bluegrass tinge. If this sounds like a concept that could be gimmicky or ironically hip at best, fear not; the audience was in for nothing short of a musical masterclass.

Opening with ‘Until I Hear You Sing’, the breakout number from Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies, the songs receiving the Broadgrass treatment spanned from ‘Eidelweiss’ to original compositions, the old and the new happily slotting side by side. Despite a notable lack of anything from Phantom itself, the Ormskirk performance featured songs including ‘High, Flying Adored’ (Evita), ‘Ol’ Man River’ (Showboat), ‘Could We Start Again Please’ (Jesus Christ Superstar) and ‘Hushabye Mountain’ (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).

Ably backed by a band as instinctively, deeply musical as Karimloo himself – right hand man Matthew Harvey, double bassist Nick Pini and percussionist Jessie Linden – the tight, 70-minute set was over all too soon. It all made for an intimate evening full of emotional, and quite unforgettable spine-tingling moments. Weapons grade Les Mis weepie Bring Him Home drew gasps and sobs from an utterly rapt audience; the pure joie de vivre of encore Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’ was truly something wonderful to behold.

It’s only the first few weeks of the year, but Ramin Karimloo set the bar extraordinarily high with this show, to such an extent it’s pretty hard to imagine what theatrical happenings could happen over the next twelve months to top such an incredible evening. One of 2017’s best already; can’t wait to see what else is in store.

Vicky Anderson on RssVicky Anderson on Twitter
Vicky Anderson
A former newspaper arts editor at Liverpool Daily Post, Vicky Anderson has been blogging about theatre in Liverpool since 2010. Her site, MADE UP: Onstage in Liverpool, "attempts to cram in as wide a variety of news, reviews and interviews on theatre happenings in Liverpool as possible".
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Vicky Anderson on RssVicky Anderson on Twitter
Vicky Anderson
A former newspaper arts editor at Liverpool Daily Post, Vicky Anderson has been blogging about theatre in Liverpool since 2010. Her site, MADE UP: Onstage in Liverpool, "attempts to cram in as wide a variety of news, reviews and interviews on theatre happenings in Liverpool as possible".

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