Angel-voiced Ramin Karimloo always seems genuinely humble. It’s an incredibly endearing quality, but doesn’t always aid this kind of evening when the focus is on him and his life.
Part of a series called Broadway @ Leicester Square, whose previous stars have included Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald, this concert and conversation with pianist, comedian, encyclopaedic Broadway expert Seth Rudetsky is meant to be “off the cuff”.
For a lot of this show that’s exactly what it is – anecdotes start and stop, and veer in disjointed directions; Karimloo is clearly very tired after returning from a filming trip.
But that doesn’t detract from the sweetness and intimacy of the evening; nor, more importantly, from the high quality of the musical performances.
Among the highlights are Jason Robert Brown’s duet I’d Give It All For You, which Karimloo performs with guest Emma Kingston, dedicated to his wife, and a lullaby for his children.
The spontaneity also provides some priceless moments, like Karimloo trying to remember the words to Gilbert and Sullivan’s I am a Pirate King accompanied by a couple of friends in the stalls who were in the cast of Pirates of Penzance with him back in 2001, and a comic recreation of the Confrontation from Les Mis with the excellent Jeremy Secomb who happened to be in the audience.
As well as Rudetsky’s on-point piano accompaniment, Karimloo picks up his guitar for a few of the songs, and the two of them plus guitarist Matt Harvey knock out a fantastic version of It All Fades Away from The Bridges of Madison County.
The sluggish conversation is tempered by Rudetsky’s quick wit and cheekiness, but it’s the songs we’re here for – and Karimloo more than delivers.