If there is a small set of rules everyone in any fandom, anywhere, should know about, it is this:
- Respect the actors’ private lives and their rights to be with their family and go into public spaces without being mobbed.
- Understand the actor is not the character
- Sometimes the ship isn’t canon and you will have to accept that. (Do not bring it up to the actors unless they ask, and even then be polite about it.)
- Do not
- Do not
- Do not try and show the actors fanfiction.
Well… at least I was able to write something.
I had a near-death experience this past weekend, and it’s all Ramin Karimloo’s fault.
On Saturday night, blackberrycreek and I attended yet another performance of “Les Miserables” at the Imperial Theatre. We had already seen it together the last time Katie had visited back in June. However, our return to the show had been decided on months ago, due to two particular seats that we were determined to sit in: third row of the orchestra, stage right, directly next to a short walkway that extended from the stage. Not only did we want these seats because they were intimately close, but also because Javert and Valjean just happen to have a short scene ON this walkway in the second act, which meant that Ramin Karimloo (who plays Jean Valjean) and Earl Carpenter (who is temporarily playing Javert) would pretty much be within touching distance from us.
I CANNOT EXPLAIN CLEARLY ENOUGH HOW UNPREPARED WE WERE FOR THIS EXPERIENCE.
The minute that Katie and I sat down in our magical seats, we realized what we had done. EVERYTHING WAS SO CLOSE. The show hadn’t even started yet and we were basically INSIDE the set. What had we DONE?! How were we to HANDLE this experience?
Before I go further, I need to explain how much of a problem Ramin Karimloo is for me. I haven’t been a fan of his for very long; Katie introduced him to me back in May, I believe. My appreciation of him hit me like a Japanese high-speed train. Those of you who follow me know that there are quite a few people I fangirl over, so it may sound like nothing new, but the big difference is that Ramin Karimloo reduces me to the level of a preteen watching a boyband and understanding sexual desire for the first time. Like, I totally, embarrassingly, inconveniently want his babies. It overrides all logic and respect, because I DO NOT want to be THIS attracted to a man who is a husband and a father, particularly when I’m married myself. But I can’t help it. His voice alone cuts straight through to my ovaries and makes them tremble in a way that is SERIOUSLY PROBLEMATIC. I’m kind of pissed at him for it. HOW DARE HE?! I was a respectful and non-delusional woman before him.
So, being completely aware of this as I sat in a seat that was TOO CLOSE to areas where Ramin Karimloo would be standing (and, more importantly, SINGING), I actually flinched when Katie turned to me and said, “You realize that if Ramin happens to trip, he’ll end up in our laps.”
Before we knew it, the show was starting (and, total sidenote, but I actually had to ask the woman next to me to turn off the flashlight on her phone… let’s not get into how much I can’t stand most people).
Guys, we were basically IN the show.
Typically, the front rows of a show aren’t always the best; sometimes you miss things that are to the extreme sides of the stage and sometimes it’s just better to be a bit further away to appreciate the show on a grander level. I don’t think I would suggest the seats we chose to someone who had never seen “Les Mis” before, but for us? THEY WERE INCREDIBLE.
I was able to see every actor’s reaction. I was able to see details on costumes and intricacies of make-up. I could hear some of their voices without even needing their microphones. It was so close to being IN the production that it was almost overwhelming. I had to physically restrain myself from jumping onstage and joining in during “One Day More”. I glared in jealousy when one of the barricade boys waved the magnificent red flag right in front of my face during “Do You Hear the People Sing”. I feared for my health when a prostitute coughed and hacked mere feet from us during “Lovely Ladies”. I smelled the guns when they went off, I was IN the fog of the sewers… it was amazing.
And then, there was the proximity to Ramin.
I loved being able to see more of his performance. Small things, like the look he gives Marius for daring to go near Cosette upon their first meeting, or the way his hands trembled at the end of the show when he is close to dying. I loved being able to hear his ad-libs; nothing out-of-character, but stuff like quietly saying a blessing after Fantine passes or his hilarious facial expressions when reacting to the Thenardiers. But the best, by far (and I know you’re thinking I’d say it was how close I was when he takes his shirt off- I mean, that was REALLY nice, don’t get me wrong) was being so close to that powerhouse voice of his. ”Bring Him Home”, in particular, was downright magical. When the lights dimmed for the song, so did the rest of my world, disappearing from the edges of my reality until it only contained Ramin Karimloo and his gorgeous voice, with me as the lone member of his audience. Yes, that experience was given to me mainly by my own imagination, but it definitely didn’t need much help to make it happen.
The standing ovation I gave the cast at the end of the show was genuine and heartfelt. It was an experience I will never forget, to say the least.
"But wait!" you must be thinking. "What about the near-death experience?"
Well, after the show ended, Katie and I went to the stage door.
It was surprisingly quiet and not overly crowded. We secured a space along the guard rail towards the end of the line. A good amount of the cast came out to sign and take pictures, and they were all gracious and generous. I was able to talk to Andrew Kober for a bit, letting him know that I had seen his show, “Koberet”, at 54 Below a few weeks earlier. He was a sweetheart and seemed genuinely grateful that I had gone to see him. I told Keala Settle that she was my hero (because she’s AWESOME and pretty much is). Cliff Saunders thanked us repeatedly for coming to the show (and did so with pretty much everyone in the line). I also told Chris McCarell that he has fabulous hair (look him up if you don’t know what I’m talking about- he totally does).
I was apprehensive about being around when Ramin came out. I very much want to run away when faced with meeting people I admire, afraid of making a fool out of myself. I knew that I wouldn’t want a picture with him (the most un-photogenic girl of all time next to one of the world’s most beautiful people? No thanks.), but would I talk to him? COULD I talk to him? What was I even going to say?
And then… there he was. He came out of the stage door in a button-down denim shirt with the sleeves rolled up (so I could see his tattoos, lord help me), dark cuffed jeans, and looking as handsome as was humanly possible. I gave Katie a look of sheer panic, and she patted my back, soothingly.
The thing is, I was far more afraid when I met Zachary Levi after “First Date”. Zac is my hero, and my connection with him is far more emotional than physical. With Ramin, I don’t feel like I know much about his off-stage personality. I have a huge stinking crush on him and his voice makes my heart ache in the best of ways, but that’s pretty much all I got. He SEEMS like a good guy from what I’ve seen, he was hilarious in his video blogs… maybe it’s just that I’m a new fan, but it was vaguely easier to not flee at the sight of Ramin than it ever has been upon meeting Zac.
Before I knew it… Ramin Karimloo was standing in front of me, reaching for my playbill. I could’ve TOUCHED him (I didn’t dare, obviously- I’m a hopeless fangirl, not insane). As it was, I could definitely SMELL him- the sweet, masculine scent he was wearing has been burned into my brain since. I swallowed my fear and felt a blush rising in my cheeks when he looked up at me.
"You were amazing. Like, incredible. Like, ridiculously good. You’re my favorite," I think I babbled, because my recollection of the entire incident is a little hazy.
"Thank you so much," he said. RAMIN KARIMLOO WAS LOOKING AT ME. AND TALKING TO ME. I stupidly kept talking, my gaze drifting to his tattoos.
"No, but it was, like, an HONOR to see you," I continued. I remember this part pretty specifically, mainly because my brain was screaming, "SHUT UP, STUPID!!!”
He wrinkled his nose.
"Ohhh, pfft, stop!" he replied, and smiled at me. "It’s an honor to play the part and have people come see it."
I might’ve wheezed.
At that point, Katie asked him for a picture. She handed me her phone and I took it for her. I stared at the picture on her phone screen while I took it, thinking, HE’S LOOKING AT ME SORT OF AND JDZGIAUDSGJKJ.
Finally, we thanked him, and he continued on down the line.
I stood there, blinking, feeling a little punch-drunk. Katie put her hand on my back. Her eyes widened in shock.
"Are you okay?" she asked. "Shannon, you’re BURNING UP!"
I felt my cheeks- they were on fire, along with the rest of my body. I realized I was sweating. My mouth was dry. My skin was flushed and pink. And that’s when I realized it.
Ramin Karimloo had nearly caused me to spontaneously combust. If I had stayed in his presence any longer, I would’ve exploded into a dust cloud of Shannon-particles. Thank god I hadn’t taken a picture with him or talked to him any longer than I did! Once we started walking home, my temperature finally dipped back down to normal (although I still needed a cold shower the next morning), but I could tell that I had only been moments from becoming a pile of glowing embers at Ramin’s feet.
So to those looking to meet the Iranian Jumping Bean at the stage door, here’s the moral of the story: BE PREPARED. Keep some ice water handy. Perhaps keep a thermometer with you, and have your friends constantly monitor your body temperature, just in case. I don’t want to lose anyone to the intense, fiery fever that comes with being in Ramin Karimloo’s presence. I came far too close myself.