Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ramin Karimloo Says Jean Valjean Is 'Probably the Most Enjoyable' He's Had

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ramin Karimloo Says Jean Valjean Is 'Probably the Most Enjoyable' He's Had

Article excerpt

Ramin Karimloo returns home for 'Les Mis'

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TORONTO - When Canadian theatre star Ramin Karimloo sings the tender ballad "Bring Him Home" for the role of Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables" these days, it seems to take on new meaning.

After all, the Ontario-raised performer -- who's been a heavyweight on London's West End for over a decade -- is making a homecoming of sorts to star as the protagonist in the Toronto premiere of Cameron Mackintosh's new edition of the Boublil & Schonberg show.

The much-anticipated production that's based on Victor Hugo's classic novel begins performances Sept. 27 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, kicking off the 2013-2014 Mirvish subscription season.

Sure, Karimloo has crossed the pond over the past 18 months for his rock music career.

But this is the first time he's starred in a musical on home soil since he initially left the country, and it's with what he considers to be "probably the most enjoyable" role he's ever had.

"'Phantom' was great, but it's deceivingly hard for a character that's actually not onstage as much as one would think," Karimloo, who's starred as the masked misfit in "The Phantom of the Opera" and the sequel "Love Never Dies," said Monday at a media event.

"Valjean ... my day kind of revolves slightly around it. But I'm less stressed about things. I feel like the older I get ... I look back and think, 'All the stress I've had about, oh, your voice, or this and that, you didn't have to worry so much.'

"So I'm just enjoying it."

Yet Karimloo didn't think that would be the case back in November 2011, when Mackintosh first asked him to play Valjean at The Queen's Theatre in London. The offer came after he'd already played various other roles in the epic musical, which he first saw as a teen in Toronto.

"It's a part I never envisioned playing," said Karimloo, who was born in Tehran and grew up in Richmond Hill, Ont., and Peterborough, Ont.

"I wanted to play Javert, and he goes, 'Just play Valjean.' I said, 'OK, if I mess it up, you can't be mad.'"

Karimloo, of course, didn't mess it up -- in fact, he won the 2013 Theatregoers' Choice Award for best takeover in a role for the part, which he said he came to "love" playing. …

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