Aidia Brennan, a current musical theatre student at the University Centre Shrewsbury, opened the entire show, using her guitar to enchant us with her rendition of “Dream a Little Dream”, followed by renditions of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and “People” from “Funny Girl”, accompanied on the piano by Dr. Sarah Taylor Ellis, a senior lecturer in Musical Theatre at the University of Chester. She ended on a powerful note, with “Journey to the Past” from Anastasia. She was followed by the funny and equally talented, Sammy Leighton Clay, a singer/songwriter from Brighton who opened for Ramin the night before in London, opening with a haunting original song accompanied on the piano by his friend Luke. He then followed up, with a medley of “Never Enough” and “A Million Dreams”, both from the hit movie “The Greatest Showman”. He then ended his set with another original titled “These Walls”. Both singers were fantastic, setting the scene and audience up with their unique perspectives on music, and equally setting the audience up for what was about to come next.
Ramin Karimloo is an Iranian-Canadian singer/actor best known for his work in the “Phantom of the Opera”, “Les Mis”, and “Love Never Dies”. His tour, From Now On, started in the UK on the 13th of January in Guildford and continues through the 31st ending his time in the UK in Southend-on-Sea, using local talents as the openers for the show. As an avid musical theatre fan and student, I found this performance stunning. Ramin opened the set with “Neverland” from the musical “Finding Neverland”. Now, this wasn’t a typical musical theatre show, it was more of a homey, country, but also rocky feel at times. Ramin and his phenomenal band, consisting of Nick Pini on Bass/Vocals, Sergio Ortega on Guitar/Mandolin/Banjo/Vocals, Alan Markley on Piano/Keys/Guitar/Vocal Producer and Georgina Leach on Fiddle, left the audience wanting even more with every fan favourite they played, including the iconic song “Til I Hear You Sing” written for Ramin’s voice specifically from the sequel to “Phantom of the Opera”, “Love Never Dies” and “Bring Him Home” from “Les Mis”. Ramin made sure to interact with the audience, talking to specific people who talked to him and joking around or giving us a bit of “banta” (a joke of Ramin’s, as he was trying to say banter).
While Ramin was certainly the star of the show and the main reason the crowd was there, the spotlight shifted away from him at times, highlighting the extraordinary players in his band, particularly Georgina Leach on fiddle, making the audience clap and woop along to her breathtaking performance. His band was just as strong as he was, with both being able to equally support each other, even when the audience wanted an encore and they provided two more songs for us.
Overall, it was an absolutely amazing show that I will remember for a very long time. Ramin was already one of my favourite performers and it was a privilege to have been able to finally see him live and in a setting where he wasn’t acting like anyone else but himself. Even if you aren’t a huge musical theatre fan, you would definitely enjoy this performance, because of their riveting renditions of classic songs and how they make each song sound like an original. You do not want to miss out; I would highly encourage you to check out Ramin if he comes to your town or close by!