Ramin Karimloo is a longtime, beloved Broadway and West End star, leading multiple productions of Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera through the years. Following some work in television and film, along with his years on the stage, Ramin admitted to HollywoodLife.com that he “didn’t know” if he wanted to do musicals again. “I didn’t want any more lateral movements. I wanted something that was going to make me uncomfortable, make me grow as an artist. I wanted to work with people I’m going to learn from,” he explained in an EXCLUSIVE interview, as part of HL’s Tony Contenders series.
In mid-2021, the actor explained he started writing in a journal to help him “visualize” where he wanted his career to go. “I kept writing, I want to be pushed as a dancer. I’ve never danced before but I was like, ‘I’m grateful I’m going to be dancing soon.’ And then Funny Girl comes in.” Ramin was performing alongside Barbra Streisand, herself, just a few months before hearing from friends in the industry about the Funny Girl Broadway revival, that was in search of a Nick Arnstein. “I was about to reach out to my agents, and as I was composing the email, I get this offer for Nick Arnstein,” he recalled. “I was thinking, ‘If my friends at Sony, who I hold in high regard are excited and now my agents are excited about this role…’ My whole life has been about instinct. I’m not educated. I’m not trained. I’m like a pinball in life, I’ve been bouncing off amazing things that I know I’ll grow from.”
Ramin recalled, “The role was more acting, hardly any singing, perfect. I said, ‘If you all want me to do it, then I will do it, and let’s see what happens.’” However, as Harvey Fierstein got his hands on the 1964 original script and revised it for the 2022 revival, he gave Ramin’s Nick more songs and a bigger role — with some dancing. “Ellenore Scott, God bless her — I said to her, if you think Nick should dance and it serves a story I’m athletic, I’ll figure it out,” he laughed, discussing the choreography he needed to learn for the role. “Boy, was I uncomfortable, but it’s been great because what a story! I feel like I’ve added things to my toolbox, and also a new way of expressing this character.”
The Funny Girl revival cast also stars Beanie Feldstein as Fanny Brice and Jane Lynch as Mrs. Brice. “I’ve always been a fan of Jane Lynch. What an incredible artist. She’s even more than what you’d expect in the room, in all the right ways. And what a gift to bounce ideas off of her,” Ramin gushed. “She’s got this subtle way of playing comedy. It’s so truthful and so funny.”
As for Beanie, his love interest in the show, Ramin said the onstage chemistry was “seamless” from the start. “Creatively, we both wanted to make this amazing, moment by moment, to create a great show. I’m there as a fan, as well as a co-star, as well as a scene partner, and I just got someone so excited to explore. She came with an empty page as well, and it one of the reasons I took the job — because of her and Jane. I was so interested to see their processes as artists.”
He added, “It’s exactly what I wrote in my journal. I wanted to work with people that are going to bring me up, and And it’s made me really realize like, to be to be better than yesterday. It’s all you can strive for, is not just a solo journey. It’s a collaboration and it’s, it’s reaching out. It’s being open.”
Funny Girl officially opens at the August Wilson Theatre on April 24, 2022.