The Heat is on in Saigon
On Saturday the long awaited production of Miss Saigon returned to London's West End at the Prince Edward theatre after a 15 year absence.
Tickets went on sale in September 2013 and broke box office records for pre-sales.
I was one of those people who was logged on ready to get tickets as soon as they were released and was fortunate enough to get fantastic seats in row P of the stalls on the night of the first preview.
I saw the show several times in the 90s and fell head over heels in love with the amazing score and was desperate for it to return.
The cast draws on actors from 18 nationalities with Eva Nobledaza taking the lead role of Kim. Eva is only just 18 and this is her first professional role although in my opinion you would never know it. Her voice is incredible and powerful and full of heart. I am in awe of a young woman capable of holding a show.
The role of Chris, the American GI is played by Brit Alistair Brammer. When the cast was announced I was incredibly disappointed with the choice. I just didn't think Alistair has the strength in his voice. Well what do I know! He was manly and butch (and sexy!) and his voice was just perfect for the role. His rendition of Why God Why? Was incredibly moving.
JonJon Briones reprised the role of the Engineer. He oozed sleaze and charisma. One of his main songs in the show, The American Dream, started quite tamely but as he relaxed into the performance he produced a performance I will never forget. It was masterful.
Rachelle Ann Go plays Gigi. I understand that she is a MASSIVE star in the Philippines but I had never heard of her. She has one main song in the show, a duet performed with Kim called Movie in my Mind. Its easy to see why she is so popular as her voice is so pure and clear and strong. It would be nice to hear more from her. I could imagine her in the role of Kim....food for thought.
Tamsin Carroll played Ellen, Chris's wife. Hmmm. What to say. In this production a new song has been written for Ellen called 'Maybe'. I felt it was a bit weak - for me it didn't develop the character. I also felt that Tamsin was too old (I know - a horrible thing to say about someone who's only 35 especially from someone who's 34!). She just didn't sit right for me against Alistair's Chris (Alistair is 25). The weak link for me.
Other notable cast members included Hugh Maynard as John, Chris's best friend. He brought a great rocky edge to the role and his version of 'Bui Doi' included some rock rifts, some of which worked and others didn't.
Kwang-Ho Hong plays Thuy. He had a very powerful voice but needs a little work on his diction and clarity of his English.
I loved the show and the new staging although I would imagine that those with seats in the boxes may struggle to see some of the action in Kims bedroom.
I have already booked to see it again. ..this time on 'Opening Night' on 21st May - I'm off to hob nob with the stars on the red carpet (well, I'm up in the Gods but I'm sure I might glimpse a few famous faces).
It'll be interesting to see if any changes have been made during previews.
I can't wait to go again. Then I might just have to book again! It would be nice to see Tanya Manalang (the alternate) in the role of Kim at some point so I can compare their portrayals.