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Miss Saigon

Published May 22, 2014

What’s it all about?

The return of a legend.

Miss Saigon sat alongside Les Misérables, The Phantom Of The Opera and Cats as one of the mega musicals of the 80s. 25 years after its famous rotor blades first started turning, theatre’s most iconic chopper returns.

Story-wise it takes the tale of Madame Butterfly and transports it to the Vietnam War. American GI Chris is bought the services of a young girl, but rather than use her as his denatured military colleagues would he falls in love. But the course of true love never ran smooth, especially in a war zone; the couple are parted, heartbroken, and Kim must fend for herself in the new Vietnam.

Who’s in it?

In Eva Noblezada (playing six shows a week), a new star rises like a helicopter airlifting a US ambassador. The 18-year-old American makes her professional stage debut in the leading role of Kim, exposing all the fear and innocence of a young girl forced into the most unforgiving world, before revealing a passion and inner strength that belies her years.

Noblezada’s voice blends effortlessly with that of Alistair Brammer, whose Chris mixes a youthful exterior with a churning inner turmoil.

Miss Saigon veteran Jon Jon Briones makes a magnetic, conniving Engineer, the club owner who is part Thénardier, part Fagin, with a dash of Macbethian cut-throat ambition. Despite being ready to sell his own grandma, his charisma, which burns hotter than, well, the heat that is on in Saigon, is irresistible.

What should I watch out for?

You don’t know spectacular until you’ve seen Miss Saigon.

The much-anticipated helicopter moment is breath-taking, second half opening number Bui Doi is heart-breaking, Ho Chi Minh City opener The Morning Of The Dragon is stunning and Briones’ big number The American Dream is gloriously opulent.

Totie Driver and Matt Kinley’s set is striking and evocative but is brought alive by Bruno Poet’s exceptional lighting which moves from dawns brimming with hope to the dark, ominous recesses in which fear makes a home.

Boublil and Schönberg’s rich score, as performed by Miss Saigon’s outstanding orchestra, has a depth that seems to thicken the very air around you so that you could almost touch it.

Who was in the press night crowd?

Who wasn’t? This was one of the biggest opening nights of the year, so the slebs were swarming in the stalls. We spotted comedian Jimmy Carr, actresses Miranda Hart and Sarah Hadland, broadcaster Alan Yentob, swoon-inducing Les Mis-er Eddie Redmayne, leg-twisting dance-trovert Louis Spence and the show’s original Engineer Jonathan Pryce.

In a nutshell?

Sensational spectacle and heaps of heart combine in a magnificent production of a musical theatre classic.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@SamanthaBarks: What an incredible experience #misssaigon was tonight!! Cried like a baby!!! Xx

@bhumi_ambasna: So #MissSaigon is stunning! Phenomenal singing and cast. @JonJonBriones is exceptional! Congrats to all involved

Will I like it?

If you like your musicals edging towards the operatic, with sweeping orchestration and rich tones; if you yearn to be struck dumb by the inconceivable architecture of a show; if you’re eager to see the emergence of an unmistakable talent amid a cast whose voices are immense, then yes, you will love Miss Saigon.

If you need a happy ending… maybe not so much.

Miss Saigon is booking until 25 October. You can book tickets through us.

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