There has never been a dynamic duo in musical theatre quite like Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser.
They first worked together back in 2002 during a production of Les Miserables in London. Both were just beginning their careers on the West End- Hadley was playing the role of Marius, while Ramin was playing Feuilly and understudying for Marius and Enjolras. The two were budding artists and each had a unique quality that made them stand out whenever they performed.
In 2010, they reunited on stage for the 25th Anniversary concert for Les Miserables, with Ramin playing Enjolras and Hadley playing Grantaire. These two characters are known for having an interesting relationship dynamic and the pair played this up through subtle interactions and body language.
The relationship between their characters was believable, and even seemed to reflect their real-life friendship throughout the concert, such as when they exit the stage after “Do You Hear the People Sing?” with their arms around each other.
The moment that fans remember most happens during the musical number, “Drink With Me.” During the song, Grantaire laments about the reality of the situation that they are facing and how he believes that their lives have meant nothing. The song calls for the characters to question what they are fighting for and Grantaire makes blatantly clear what all of the other men are thinking.
When Hadley finishes singing and turns to leave, Ramin grabs his arm to stop him. They pause for a moment and Hadley lays his hand on Ramin’s neck as if to embrace him before making their exit from the stage. Whether this is intentional or spontaneous in the moment, it adds to their performances in a way that makes it feel as though you are no longer watching two actors, but simply two friends who are trying to comfort each other. This shows just how wonderful and thought-provoking their portrayals are.
Their next show together was the 25th Anniversary production of Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall. Ramin played the title role and Hadley played the charming Vicomte Raoul de Chagny. The two characters do not interact often, but during the curtain call, it is clear that Ramin and Hadley are incredibly proud of each other’s performances, as when they meet up to take the company bow, you can see just how excited they are for one another. After the show, Hadley stated how wonderful it was that they were able to work together in the show and how proud he was of his friend.
Most recently, the two were in the West End’s production of Les Miserables, Ramin as Valjean and Hadley as Javert. For this show, the two friends had to play opposite each other as the famous ex-convict, and the police officer who tries to bring him to justice. The pair gave the most electrifying performance of “The Confrontation” that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Their friendship has not just been something that transitions from show to show. A few years back, the two collaborated on making music outside of theatre and formed the group Sheytoons. They have performed in venues across the UK and the United States, covering music from artists that they pull influence from, as well as playing music they wrote together.
It is so refreshing to see that their friendship has remained strong over the course of their careers and that they support each other in all of their individual endeavors. Here’s to hoping that they work together again sooner rather than later!