After missing him LIVE in Kuala Lumpur on three separate occasions, I finally got to meet the voice behind this very song - Ramin Karimloo!
Oh, uh... Ramin-who?
Right. I think that a little introduction may be in order here.
Ramin Karimloo is an Iranian-born Canadian actor who is most known for originating the role of the Phantom in "Love Never Dies", the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber's infamous "The Phantom of the Opera", in which he has also played the roles of Raoul and the Phantom respectively.
Fellow West End enthusiasts might also recall his other roles such as Chris Scott in "Miss Saigon" (dear lord one can only imagine how lovely his rendition of "Sun & Moon" must have been), The Pirate King in "The Pirates of Penzance" and most recently, musical theatre's most lauded ex-convict, Jean Valjean of "Les Miserables".
He also had the privilege to play the title role in the 25th Anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall, as well as Enjolras in Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Arena. (Both made available on DVD so you don't miss out!)
Ramin as Jean Valjean with BFF Hadley Fraser as Inspector Javert
So, what business does a man from the West End have in a country like Malaysia?
That's something you have to thank the theatre-loving folks of Enfiniti Vision Media for! Much credit goes to them for putting together another wonderful effort in bringing quality West End acts closer to home. Last year, they organised "West End Stars In Concert", which featured the powerful voices of Simon Bailey, Stephen Rahman-Hughes as well as Ramin Karimloo himself. I missed it thanks to some mission I had 6,118 feet above sea level but wow - how the audience survived such earth-shattering pipes will forever remain a mystery to me.
This time around, however, it was this.
A two-night dinner concert at JW Marriott. With him was Annalisa Kerrigan, an opera songstress who's proudly half-Malaysian.
Needless to say, the release of the poster (and its price) totally floored Quin, Olala and I. But thankfully, the universe was kind enough to give us what we wanted, and on the eve of the concert itself - we won two tickets to the show via a Twitter contest!
And how did we win it, you ask?
A super shameless, super heck-it-all-there's-nothing-to-lose sort of last ditch copywriter-designer effort that we chalked up in the dying minutes of the contest! THIS.
You're probably thinking that it looks nothing like him. But it's alright - it's the thought that counts!
And here are some pictures from the night itself. A night where we felt completely out of place, and drifted even further from reality when Ramin (joined by Annalisa, of course) sang us through his life's musical journey - from the Phantom of the Opera staples to Jean Valjean's prayer, to a really dark rendition of "Sunset Boulevard" and a bluegrass cover of "What a Beautiful Morning"on his banjo... with plenty more in between.
And not forgetting his most famed anthem, "Till I Hear You Sing", which he apparently laid to rest in this very ballroom for the very last time.
The JW Marriott ballroom that was completely transformed for the night, fitted with an 'official chandelier' by Seng Hup too!
With the ever-friendly Tiara Jacquelina (and possibly, Olala's biggest idol). Read up on her, folks - she's truly an examplary lady.
Annalisa asking if I enjoyed the evening. How couldn't I?
And of course, a picture with the Phantom himself - Ramin Karimloo!