Review - Miss Saigon

I have a confession to make...until this week I had never seen Miss Saigon! I know, I know, a self confessed musical theatre obsessive who had never seen what is often referred to as one of the best musicals of all time! Shocking! Luckily, a few days ago I, along with several other #LDNtheatrebloggers, were given the opportunity to see the newest cast in action at The Prince Edward Theatre, and so thankfully I am now enlightened!
Set during the Vietnam war, the story follows a young Vietnamese bar girl named Kim, who falls in love with an American GI named Chris. He promises to save her from her unhappy life, but before he can help the pair are torn apart by the fall of Saigon! The story is certainly not easy going, in fact, by the end of this epic tale (with a runtime of 2hrs50 including interval) I found myself a bit drained. Perhaps it's Miss Saigon's ability to pull on its audiences heartstrings so effectively that has helped maintain it's popularity for more than 25 years.

In the lead role, Eva Noblezada was a sweet Kim with an effortlessly beautiful voice and a magnetic stage prescence. From her first entrance she had the audience under her spell and was an absolute marvel to watch. Similarly, Chris Peluso made Chris a sympathetic character, which meant that when he had a difficult choice to make, the audience felt his struggle. The pair's duet, 'Last Night Of The World', was so sweet and did a fantastic job of getting everyone on board with their love at first sight. The rest of the cast did a fine job (we saw the full cast minus Jon Jon Briones and Siobhan Dillon. The roles of The Engineer and Ellen were played by Christian Rey Marbella and Claire Parrish.) and I was particularly struck by the honesty and power behind the performance of Sangwoong Jo as Kim's fiancé Thuy.

Given the show's frequent comparisons to another Boublil and Schonberg epic, Les Miserables, I went in expecting a show with incredible scale, and was not disappointed. The huge ensemble helped to give each scene a sense of vastness and chaos, and the amazing lighting effects and large impressive and detailed set pieces thoroughly transported the audience into wartime and later post war Vietnam.
For me though, the element which I was most impressed by was the music! I adore a good sung-through drama and Miss Saigon was brimming with amazing emotional and affecting songs. 'I Still Believe', 'Why God Why' and 'Movie In My Mind' were particularly gutwrenching, 'The Wedding Ceremony' was just beautiful, 'Kim's Nightmare' was perhaps the most tearkerking few minutes of the whole show, and while I did find it a little jarring (although I think that's probably the point), the penultimate song, The Engineer's 'The American Dream' was a showstopper that I really didn't expect! Frankly, there were too many jawdropping moments to count.

Although I did find the story a bit bitty and disjointed, and I felt the ensemble numbers could perhaps have been performed with a bit more enunciation as at points vocals seemed a bit jumbled and muffled (although this may have been a sound problem rather than a problem with the cast) I found Miss Saigon to be a surprising, harrowing and unpredictable show with georgous sets and lighting, memorable music and a brilliant cast.

Oh, and THAT helecopter scene was as epic as everyone says it is!

Head over to The Prince Edward Theatre to catch the new cast of Miss Saigon in action. Just make sure you've packed plenty of tissues in your bag!

Verdict - 3.5 stars

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