'Grittier' Miss Saigon returns to London stage
MANILA, Philippines – The heat is back on in Saigon.
After more than a year of preparation and months of rehearsals, the much anticipated return of the musical Miss Saigon opened on stage at the Prince Edward Theatre in London.
At the press night on Wednesday, May 21, some of the original cast members, led by Jonathan Pryce, attended the show to lend support to the new cast under the helm of new director Laurence Connor.
The musical produced by Cameron Mackintosh with music and lyrics by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Richard Maltby Jr, tells the story of a Vietnamese bar girl Kim who falls in love with an American G.I. Chris during the Vietnam war.
Originally staged in 1989 in Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, the original cast was composed of Lea Salonga as Kim, Simon Bowman as Chris, and Jonathan Pryce as the engineer.
In the 2014 revival, Filipino-American Eva Noblezada plays Kim with Alistair Brammer as Chris, and Jon Jon Briones taking on the role of the engineer. Singer Rachelle Ann Go joins the cast as Gigi van Tranh, a role originally played by Isay Alvarez in the 1989 production.
In an interview with BBC News on the opening night at the Prince Edward Theatre, Mackintosh said that it was an honor to revive a musical people have come to love.
“For me, in my own lifetime, to reinvent one of the greatest musicals ever written is a privilege," he said.
The producer also added that the audience of the show has gotten younger based on the ticket sales.
"We've got record breaking advance booking but it's not from the normal theater audience. It's mostly from younger people, a few hardcore fans, but mostly younger people who've never seen the show. They've heard about it from their parents."
Since its opening night, the new production of the musical has received good reviews. TheatrePeople.com’s Glenn Rice wrote:
“The grittiness that Mackintosh promised for the production is apparent, thanks to Laurence Connor's punchy direction and Totie Driver and Matt Kinley’s designs, which give a real sense of seediness and danger to the opening scenes in Dreamland, the Saigon bar-cum-brothel run by pimp/proprietor the engineer (Jon Jon Briones).”
Another review written by Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph described the production as “superbly slick, powerfully acted and splendidly sung revival.”
The Evening Standard’s Henry Hitchings meanwhile wrote: "It's less operatic than before and has a grittier feel. Yet it remains a huge spectacle, and the music surges and soars."
Viewers also took to Twitter to express their admiration for the show from the famous helicopter scene to the finale.
@MissSaigonUK I came tonight and honestly it was the best show I have ever seen! Congratulations on a stunning production!— Matt Powell (@PowellsPonders) May 24, 2014
@MissSaigonUK Was simply the best thing I've seen on stage. Magical, totally heart-breaking and visually PLUS vocally impeccable.— Sam Francis (@saammmfrancis) May 24, 2014
No doubt, Philippine-based fans of the hit musical might consider spending a hefty sum to catch the West End's latest offering.
WATCH: Miss Saigon 2014 rehearsals