Champagne, glitter and Cameron Mackintosh driving Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil on stage in a white Cadillac; last night was the Miss Saigon 25th anniversary gala performance and with many of the cast and audience in tears by the end of the evening, this was a night of electric celebration.
As the curtain came down at the end of an incredible performance and bottles of fizz were circulated around the auditorium, no one could have predicted the response Lea Salonga, who originated the role of Kim, would receive as she was revealed on stage, not even the star herself.
“The audience’s response was crazy, deafening crazy,” an adrenaline-filled Salonga told us on stage after her performance. “Cameron said ‘They’re going to go mad’ but I didn’t expect how mad they were going to get.”
After an emotional rendition of The Movie In My Mind with the show’s current Gigi, Rachelle Ann Go, the audience really went wild as Salonga’s former co-star Simon Bowman proved chemistry never goes away to perform The Last Night Of The World.
“How can you not pick up where you left off?,” Bowman told us, just a touch emotional after performing. “I think the most important thing when you’re performing on stage is chemistry and if you pick up these little innuendos of chemistry, that’s what makes it special.”
“You can’t really manufacture it either,” Salonga agreed. “He just wrapped his arms around me and then ‘Boom! There it is!’”
Bringing together the show’s current cast, including West End debutant Eva Noblezada as Kim and the charismatic Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer, with many other former cast members including Jonathan Pryce – who performed American Dream in his dance shoes from his original run before presenting his jacket to Briones to wear “on the 50th anniversary gala” – Mackintosh’s incredible celebration was nine months in the making.
While Mackintosh admitted it was “a particularly rapturous night,” the producer was full of pride for the show’s ability to have audiences on their feet night after night. “This reception we get every single night,” he explained, claiming: “This show will be performed long after I’m dead.”
So, after pulling off an event that will go down in musical theatre history, what next for the producer? While he kept his cards close to his chest, he did admit a film version of Miss Saigon, which would follow his huge worldwide success with 2013’s Les Misérables, was “being talked about…”, and that a reworking of Schönberg and Boublil’s Martin Guerre was “bubbling along”. But for now, This Is The Hour for Miss Saigon, so take a look at the photos above and play spot the star in photos from a curtain call like no other. Happy birthday Miss Saigon.