This UK Tour of Miss Saigon has been my most anticipated production in a very very long time, but along with my excitement there was a feeling of slight dread. Would the tour do my favourite musical justice? Could it really be as good as the London production? Well… Yes, yes it could.
Miss Saigon stunningly captures the terror and confusion in the final days of the Vietnam war and an unexpected love story which emerges amongst the horror. Kim is 17 and new to Saigon following the death of her parents. Like so many desperate young Vietnamese girls, she is taken in by the seedy ‘Engineer’ to become a prostitute and go-go dancer in ‘Dreamland’ – a hub for American GI’s. Kim falls in love with Chris, an American soldier, not long before they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. The next 3 years pass while Kim fights for survival and desperately tries to reunite with her GI who swore he’d get her out. Chris has a new life in America, but the news that he fathered a son begins a new journey into the past. It is a tale which still resonates today – a tale of war, migration, children left parentless and countries left devastated.
The story seriously tugs at the heartstrings and is beautifully told through Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s exquisite music and lyrics. For me, this score is easily one of the best in the business. ‘The Movie in My Mind’ and ‘Bui Doi’ are complete tear jerkers whilst ‘If You Want to Die in Bed‘ provides some much needed comedy relief. ‘American Dream’ ticks off the ‘big show number’ box and I challenge anyone to find a more goosebump inducing song than ‘This is the Hour’ – you know how I love a strong harmony. Each number is as stunning as the last and this impeccable cast performs them with superb power.
Sooha Kim played the role of Kim and she did so delightfully. She gave the character the perfect balance of innocence and grit; completely winning her audience over. Red Concepcion was hilarious and unique as the infamous Engineer and Ashley Gilmour gave a compelling performance as Chris – particularly shining in ‘The Confrontation’ where his raw emotion almost snatched my breath away. Zoe Doano‘s Ellen is stunning. Her vocals are to die for and she puts 110% onto that stage. Ryan O’Gorman seems like a natural choice for John, perfectly slotting into the role and Gerald Santos is powerful and at times a tad terrifying a Thuy. Of course, an incredible ensemble supports this stellar cast and together they create an unbeatable company. I will just add, that I have also seen Joreen Bautista in the role of Kim (alternate) and was incredibly impressed.
Thank the heavens above, this touring production is most definitely not a watered down version of its London predecessor. In fact, I can’t think of one design element that is largely different from the West-End production. Cameron Mackintosh and his team have produced a true replica and it is a complete joy to see. The set, costume, lighting and stage design are visually gorgeous. Benjamin Osborne‘s choreography is sharp, precise and impressive.
Miss Saigon will always hold a special place in my heart and this production certainly does it justice. With an impeccable cast, a stunning score and slick design this UK tour is without a doubt one of the best of its time. It’s spectacular, it’s thrilling, it’s beautifully tragic and it’s unmissable.
You can see this incredible production at Leicester’s Curve Theatre until Saturday 22nd July before it continues on its UK Tour. For more information, head to the Miss Saigon UK Tour Website.
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*Production images by Johan Perrson and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.