The Phantom of the Opera is probably my favourite musical. The story, the characters and, of course, the music, all come together to create a musical which is as close to perfect as I think you can get. It holds a special place in many people’s hearts, and former Phantom cast member Nadim Naaman would count himself among those too. He has continually spoken about the two years he spent with the show as being a highlight of his career, although there are plenty of fans who would praise him as being a highlight of the show during his time there. He spent a lot of time amongst the ranks of the ensemble, but this rising star is becoming a name in his own right and is well-suited to join the ranks of In Profile.
Nadim Naaman is a man with a variety of talents and interests, but it was the stage that called loudest to him. He was a chorister during his schools years and also enjoyed performing in school productions, but it wasn’t until the age of 14 that he seriously considered pursuing a career as a performer, with the encouragement of his Head of Drama, Simon Dormandy. It was his involvement in a school production of Jesus Christ Superstar that was the ‘turning point’ in his life’s path, and theatre fans will be delighted to learn that he played the role of an Apostle opposite another future- West End star, Will Barratt.
He completed his BA Hons in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Warwick before being accepted at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM), where he not only graduated in 2007 with distinction, but with a DipRAM for outstanding achievement in performance and the Ronald William White Prize for excellence in acting through song. During his time at RAM, Naaman also played at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in The Fix (2005), Neville’s Island (2006) and The Last Five Years (2007).
After leaving RAM, he entered the industry as a trained stage performer and walked straight into his first West End job. He made his début at the London Palladium as part of the 2007 cast change of The Sound of Music, spending the first year as 1st Cover Rolf before being offered the role full-time. It’s a great achievement for any performer in their first West End show.
He played the role of Rolf until the show’s closure six months later. He then had roles in several further productions, including Sam in Goodbye Barcelona (Arcola Theatre), the title role in James and The Giant Peach (Watermill Theatre) and Lance in Knight Crew (Glyndebourne), before taking on his second big West End show. Naaman joined the West End production of The Phantom of the Opera in 2010, performing as a member of the ensemble in the long-running show. Her Majesty’s Theatre was home for the next two years, during which time he was 1st Cover Raoul and played his first Raoul show opposite John Owen Jones as The Phantom, making the moment particularly special as he had been inspired by Owen-Jones as a teenager. He performed the principal role on-stage on many occasions, most notably when the then-Raoul, Killian Donnelly, was filming for themovie and Naaman covered him for over seventy performances in his absence. He was also involved in the 25th Anniversary production of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Opera House, which was celebrated in October 2011 while he was part of the show’s current West End company.
He returned to the Arcola Theatre after he made his departure from Phantom, taking on the role of Andrei in Thirteen Days there. He then moved over to the Tabard Theatre to play Armand in Marguerite, which was the first in a series of shows that gained critical acclaim and helped to boost his career further still. He starred as Russian chess player Anatoly in last year’s production of Chess at the Union Theatre, performing as part of a principal cast which also featured Tim Oxbrow as American chess player Freddie and Sarah Galbraith as Florence. Following that, he appeared in Maury Yeston’s award-winning Broadway musical, Titanic, which made its European première at the Southwark Playhouse in summer 2013 in an all-new chamber version starring Philip Rham, Simon Green, Greg Castiglioni and Celia Graham. Naaman played a number of characters in the ensemble-friendly piece, predominantly that of journalist and 2nd Class passenger Charles Clarke.
That year continued to be a particularly good one for him as he was then cast in yet another West End show, this time in the National’s smash-hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. He appeared in the award-winning production in an ensemble capacity and additionally was 1st Cover to the roles of Alan and Alfie in the final cast.
As a performer, he has also been involved in a number of concerts as part of the choirs in Fast Forward at the National Theatre, Wembley Arena’s Concert for Diana with Elton John and Rod Stewart – Live at Twickenham Stadium, and appeared in RAM’s City of Angels too. His other performances include such concerts and cabarets as West End Showstoppers (The Harlington), Sunday on the Barge with Four (Battersea Barge), and various MADTrust fundraisers, including A West End Christmas, the charity’s annual Garden Party and the Phantom cabaret A Complicated Love. He has often performed his own material at these events, as along with his skills as an actor/singer, he is also a talented songwriter. He released his début solo album, We All Want The Same, on 23rd August 2013, which featured eleven self-penned songs written over the space of several years. These span such musical genres as pop, rock, jazz, R ‘n’ B, and of course, musical theatre and come from moments and personal experiences in his own life. It also includes special guest vocalists such as Siubhan Harrison and Will Barratt, the latter of which performed a duet with him on the song they co-wrote, ‘That’s How It Goes’. The album was launched with a gig at the Union Theatre and received a horde of approving reviews, putting him on the map as one of the most exciting and promising songwriters around.
His other theatre credits include the workshop roles of Miguelito in The Sacred Flame, Freidrich in Toronto’s production of The Sound of Music, Ensemble in the Phantom II: Love Never Dies, Buster Keaton in Keaton, Albin in The Green Cockatoo, Skyresh in Gulliver’s Travels and Daniel in Daniel In Babylon. He’s also dipped his toe into television on several occasions, appearing as a backing vocalist on Britain’s Got Talent 2010 and as a principal singer on Gareth Malone Goes To Glyndebourne.
He can currently be found at Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop performing in Tooting Arts Club’s site-specific production of Sweeney Todd, which runs until 29th November. The oldest pie shop in London, Harrington’s provides the perfect setting for Sondheim’s musical about the demon barber, and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive during the show’s sold-out run there. Naaman plays the role of Anthony in the intimately-staged production, appearing alongside Jeremy Secomb as Sweeney Todd, Siobhan McCarthy as Mrs Lovett, David Freedman as Judge Turpin, Ian Mowat as the Beadle, Kiara Jay as Pirelli/Beggar Woman, Grace Chapman as Johanna and Joseph Taylor as Tobias.
He will next be seen as part of the line-up for Curtain Up!, a concert being held at the Prince Edward Theatre on 30th November in celebration of the Royal Academy of Music, which is set to include past and present students and a number of other guest performers. He will then be travelling up to Fleet, Hampshire to play Prince Charming in Cinderella at the Harlington over the Christmas season. Additionally, he can also be heard on the upcoming charity album, The West End Goes MAD For Christmas, which features a compilation of original Christmas songs performed by West End stars, in aid of The Make A Difference Trust. Naaman has contributed the song ‘A Soldier’s Christmas’ to the album, which he has also recorded as a duet with Phantom star Geronimo Rauch.
Fans can also look forward to seeing him in next year’s anniversary concert of A Little Night Music, which takes place for one-night-only at the Palace Theatre on 26th January 2015 in celebration of the show’s West End première forty years ago. He will join the impressive cast as Mr Erlanson once again, having first played the role in the concert performance at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in 2013.
Naaman is a multi-talented individual who has made great achievements in many aspects of his life, not just on the stage. He plays both the piano and guitar, embraces his passion for sports as a writer for Arsenal fanzine The Gooner, and also enjoys a secondary outlet teaching Singing, Drama, and English Language & Literature. He supports many charitable causes as well, having both take part and staged several fundraising concerts in recent years. He is currently in training to run the Virgin London Marathon on 26th April 2015, as the sole representative of The Make A Difference Trust. His target is £10,000,00 and fans can donate through his JustGiving page, as well as follow his progress leading up to the event on www.nadimmarathon.blogspot.co.uk.
For so many reasons, Nadim Naaman is a name to remember. He has already accomplished much in his career and is not even close to peaking yet. Fans have glimpsed his potential as a leading man and he will undoubtedly one day be the star of the show in the West End.
You can follow Nadim on Twitter: @NadimNaaman
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 22nd November 2014