With an all-time Box Office record, taking in excess of £4m on the first day, the revival production of Miss Saigon was highly anticipated. The musical premiered at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on 20 September 1989, closing after over 4000 in performances 1999. Since then, it has toured but in recent years hasn't been available to see. It's perhaps the perfect time to bring it back, being one of the only classics (Phantom, Les Mis..) that young theatregoers haven't been able to experience at an age where they can truly appreciate Boublil and Schönberg's masterpiece.
Inspired by Puccini's Madame Butterfly, this, set in 1970's Saigon is the story of Kim, orphaned by war who falls in love with Chris, an American GI. Events of the Vietnam War come between them and an inevitable tragic end leaves the heart aching.
Alistair Brammer and Eva Noblezada
Alternate Kim, Tanya Manalang is a sensation. 18-year-old relative newcomer Eva Noblezada has been received in high-regard so I must presume that both leading ladies are just as phenomenal. Manalang manages to power her way through the score with an incredibly strong but equally vulnerable performance, capturing the many emotions, highs and crashing lows that Kim endures. She is joined by Alistair Brammer as Chris who is in great voice throughout, a highlight being The Last Night Of The World love duet.
The incredible Rachelle Ann Go gives a beautiful performance as Gigi with an almost unbelievable, perfect vocal in The Movie In My Mind. An excellent casting.
Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer
Jon Jon Briones is excellent as the Engineer - it's not a 'you love to hate him', it's a 'you hate to love him'. You can't help but enjoy his performance as the seedy Engineer, another highlight being his American Dream number, with an impressive surprising set change and a chorus of dancers - it's very "Broadway" but great relief from some of the deeper, darker moments. Mention must also go to Tamsin Carroll who is an impressive Ellen.
This breathtaking production is not without flaws. The lighting, although beautiful, is hazy and incredibly dark at times - when sat further back you struggle to see clearly, it's more comfortable to just close your eyes and listen. There is also a very modern film of Vietnamese children shown on a giant screen during Bui Doi which although relevant to the theme, seems particularly 'HD' a little unnecessary and out of place as an accompaniment during the incredible vocal performance of Hugh Maynard as John.
Tottie Driver and Matt Kinley's redesign of the set is a marvel and by the time of the helicopter arriving during Kim's Nightmare you can have no doubt that this is one of the greatest theatrical events. With one of the West End's finest casts, the heat is definitely on in Prince Edward's Saigon. I certainly can't wait for a return visit. Currently booking until April 2015, get tickets online here.
Meet the revival cast of Miss Saigon
Cast List: Jon Jon Briones, Eva Noblezada, Alistair Brammer, Tamsin Carroll, Hugh Maynard, Kwang-Ho Hong, Rachelle Ann Go, Tanya Manalang, Julia Abueva, Natalie Chua, Jon-Scott Clark, Jenny Ding, Dale Evans, Callum Francis, Ashley Gilmour, Maria Graciano, Simon Hardwick, Jack Harrison-Cooper, Matthew Jeans, Kurt Kansley, Kittiphun Kittipakapom, David Kar-Hing Lee, Mitch Leow, Ela Lisondra, Carolyn Maitland, Christian Rey Marbella, Kanako Nakano, Thoa Nguyen, Saori Oda, Ariel Reonal.