Just over a week ago was the final performance of Ramin Karimloo in the title role of The Phantom of the Opera in London. In 2007, he became the youngest ever actor to play the Phantom in the West End and now he'll continue the part in Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel Phantom: Love Never Dies, which begins previews in February at the Adelphi Theatre.
As preposterous as a Phantom sequel may seem (set 10 years later at Coney Island!), I can't help but feel some good ol' Canadian pride as the Iranian-born, Ontario-raised Karimloo tops the bill of the eagerly anticipated new musical. He even started off in a Tragically Hip tribute band(!) before lying about his age and singing on cruise ships for two years. And now he's bringing the Phantom back. I may just have to make some sort of pilgrimage to New York when it eventually opens there, not to mention the crazy spectacle that will be the U2/Julie Taymor Spider-Man musical-- I want to see it, no joke. Ah, the power of the Music of the Night!
Ramin Karimloo - New York State of Mind (with Hadley Fraser) [originally by Billy Joel]
From Karimloo's 8-song EP of musical numbers and a couple Billy Joel covers that can be purchased from his official site.
Nightwish - The Phantom of the Opera [originally performed by Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford]
You just can't top this snarling, but soulful metal rendition by Finnish power metal band Nightwish.
Sammy Davis, Jr. - The Music of the Night [originally performed by Michael Crawford]
It's almost unthinkable now that The Phantom of the Opera has been seen by tens of millions worldwide, but it's wonderful to listen to Sammy Davis, Jr. describe the plot of the musical and set the stage for the Phantom's signature song before delivering an expressive performance as only he could do it. This is from a 1989 "Ultimate Event" with Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli in Detroit, but you can find youtube footage of him performing the same song during a Jerry Lewis telethon the previous year.