Two hours before the show even started, eager fans were already lining up inside the venue, their excitement and enthusiasm palpable. The employees of Subculture, a new bare-bones venue nestled on Bleecker street in New York City, seemed excited, too. After all, tonight’s show would be the first of a weekend-long string of shows by Ramin Karimloo, and with so many dedicated fans flocking to the show, Subculture would undoubtedly have a great weekend.
Before being let down into the actual performance space–located in the basement of the building, which is home to Culture Project–attendees lined-up in the box office lobby, an open space with large windows overlooking the Bleecker sidewalk–and no air conditioning. Not even a fan to help cool down the hot, stuffy air. Though the uncomfortable setting could easily be fixed, the venue itself is nice. Subculture’s space in the basement is comfortable, open, and has a great underground feel without being dingy or, well, creepy.
But when the doors opened and tickets were taken, the heat was forgotten and only one person seemed to consume people’s thoughts: Ramin Karimloo. Mostly known overseas, Karmiloo is quickly becoming theatre’s most talented and wanted performers. Having starred as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera and in its sequel Love Never Dies, as well as taking on the role of Enjolras in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables, Karimloo has won over audiences with each performance. And with its unique blend of Broadway, bluegrass, and rock, his touring show delivers even more punch and showcases his talents for songwriting and performing in general.
Bantering with his band members and the audience, Karimloo kept the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the whole night in excitement and wonder. His renditions of “Music of the Night” and “Bring Him Home”, which was dedicated to family friends who recently lost their son, had many people crying, and his encore that featured the traditional song “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” wowed the entire crowd with the band singing harmonies and taking turns tackling solo verses. Throughout the entire show, Karimloo demonstrated powerhouse vocals that easily transitioned from deep rumbles to beautiful whisper-like tones.
Ramin Karimloo is definitely a talent to watch and lucky audiences can catch him as Jean Valjean in the upcoming production of Les Miserables in Toronto this fall. Subculture was lucky to have him this weekend and I hope to see him return soon.