I’m sitting here this week asking myself, what’s the point of writing about the London entertainment scene from San Francisco? It feels like I’m in exile here. Still, a friend just made an excellent point. She said, “Hell, it is your blog, so you should write about whatever you want.” Taking that to heart, I’m going share my internet research with other fans of the Les Misérables 25th anniversary concert. If you’re like me, the concert left you wanting to see more from these talented performers.
Ramin Karimloo (Enjolras) and Hadley Fraser (Grantaire): These two fellows are kind of a package deal. Friends offstage, they formed a band called Sheytoons last summer. Sheytoons is a Farsi expression meaning “climb down from the Devil’s donkey.” That seems like a lot of words to pack into two syllables, but it’s a great image. You can watch Sheytoons videos on YouTube, or at www.raminkarimloo.com or www.hadleyfraser.com. They don’t have a CD yet, but their sites promise that something is coming in the near future. On Easter Sunday, April 24th, they are playing a gig at Dublin Castle in Camden, London. I can’t attend, so I’m sending a friend in my place. She will take photos, copious notes, and give us a full report.
Ramin Karimloo is currently starring as The Phantom in Love Never Dies, the new sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. His commitment is until September 3, 2011. He just announced on twitter that he will also be playing The Phantom for The Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary concert in October. (These 25th Anniversary concerts just keep coming, don’t they?!) That’s pretty impressive, because a lot of big names have done the role over the years. Hopefully it will be filmed and released on DVD the same way the Les Mis concert was. I rented the movie version of Phantom earlier this week, because Karimloo is listed in the credits as “Christine’s Father.” I watched the 2½ hour movie looking for him, only to discover that his appearance was nothing more than a framed sepia photograph in one scene. There’s a quick clip of him performing as Raoul in a documentary on the DVD bonus disc—it’s the scene with the noose.
Karimloo is really smart about using the internet and social networking sites. He’s got his official website, a twitter account (with over 10,000 followers), a facebook fan page, and a YouTube channel separate from the Sheytoons one. For some reason, his YouTube channel has no videos, but he has over 700 subscribers waiting for an upload. There are plenty of YouTube videos to be found on other channels, featuring him singing, being interviewed and just acting silly. Karimloo has a solo CD (Within the Six Square Inch) but, according to his website, it is ”sold out.” I don’t know if was self-produced or released through a record label, but apparently no more copies will be made available. At amazon.co.uk, there is a WWII musical concept album called Bluebird featuring Karimloo, available as a CD or mp3 download.
By all accounts, Karimloo is personable, polite, and friendly to his many fans. He signs autographs, poses for photos, and still says “ma’am.” His messages on facebook and his video blogs convey a sense of humor and a sincere desire to make fans feel included and informed.
Now, on to his friend. Hadley Fraser will be taking over the role of Inspector Javert in the West End production of Les Misérables on June 23rd, appearing with Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas. He has played Marius in the past, and he was Grantaire (the guy with the bottle) in the anniversary concert. The role of Javert is a quite a change from romantic youth and drunken cynic, but I’m sure he’s up to the challenge. He might even make the audience feel sad when Javert kills himself.
I really like Fraser’s website. It doesn’t take things too seriously, and it’s got a tongue-in-cheek style that’s refreshing. Many websites are so busy hard-selling that they forget to be fun. This guy comes across as fun. (Just watch this for proof!) He’s also on twitter, and his tweets are entertaining, although he uses twitter often to communicate with friends and fellow performers. This isn’t a bad thing, but some of his tweets don’t make much sense to the rest of us. Fraser was in an episode of Dr Who (season 2, episode 12, “Army of Ghosts”) and a horror film called The Lost Tribe. Both of these are available streaming on Netflix, but be sure to search for “Lost Tribe” because Netflix doesn’t bother to include the “The.” Sadly, Fraser doesn’t survive to the end of this film, but happily, this means you don’t have to watch the whole thing. (Sorry, I’m just not a horror fan.) YouTube has a trailer for a film called Convincing Clooney with Fraser—and Wilson Cruz, who I’ve met. (Ha! One degree of separation!) Last but not least, my new favorite song is Fraser singing “Again” from Keys: The Music of Scott Alan.
Robert Madge (Gavroche): Since I started blogging about Les Misérables a couple of weeks ago, there have been many internet searches for young Robert Madge reflected in my blog stats. I can even tell when the concert has aired on TV again. The Gavroche post has received the most comments I’ve ever had. I assume this is because there’s not a lot on the internet about him yet. He doesn’t have an official website, a facebook fan page, or even a wikipedia entry (which can change at any moment!). This could be because his management and the press aren’t fully aware of the interest that the Les Mis concert has generated in this young performer. It could be that he’s being protected from too much exposure at such a young age. Hopefully, Madge will do more television and films, allowing international fans to see his work. Until then, here is a playlist of clips on YouTube where he can be seen. Some of them are “blink and you miss him” brief, but they include several TV appearances, clips from Oliver! and Les Mis, an audio clip from Mary Poppins, and an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Over at Netflix, Madge appears in episode 5, “Succubi,” of Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, which is available streaming. His scene is at the 13:15 mark, and he’s really great, but be warned. The rest of the show is crude and raunchy. Appearing in the scene with Madge is Matt Lucas, who played Thenardier in the Les Mis concert. It’s interesting that the concert wasn’t their first time working together. It’s also amusing how often Robert Madge has to work with a dirty face.
After the Les Mis concert, Madge appeared in the RSC musical Matilda, based on the Roald Dahl book, but it is no longer playing in Stratford. There’s a good chance that it will move to the West End, since the reviews and the audience reaction were excellent. There hasn’t been any official word, and I don’t know if Madge is committed to a West End run. I’m watching and waiting.
There were other great performers in the concert, like Matt Lucas and Lea Salonga. I’ve been watching Little Britain and listening to Salonga as Eponine in the 10th anniversary concert. There’s only so much time in the day, though, and this post has gone on long enough.
Update: Here’s our report on Sheytoon’s Dublin Castle show. Matilda opened to successful reviews and ticket sales in the West End, but Robert Madge is not part of the cast. Over on YouTube, his episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures (The Temptation of Sarah Jane) has been removed. These things get re-posted often, so keep searching for it.
Related posts: My Les Mis Gavroche To the Barricade! Ramin Karimloo Grantaire Enjolras & Grantaire Thénardier Waltz Gavroche: Liar! Bring Him Home Enjolras Les Mis: The Originals 24601 Fantine Les Mis: The Streets of Paris Les Mis: The Big Opening Farewell to Love Never Dies