Friday, 23 May 2014

Review: Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre

Miss Saigon
Prince Edward Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 22nd May 2014

Miss Saigon is quite simply musical theatre perfection. It's not often I sit in a theatre and physically feel as if I am watching a classic piece of theatre. I've heard various comparisons between this new revival and the original West End production, but you don’t miss what you don't know.

Following the tragic love story between young bar girl Kim, orphaned by war, who embarks on a whirlwind romance with an American GI called Chris before the Vietnamese War comes between them, Miss Saigon is an emotionally draining yet strangely empowering piece of theatre. You can't help but become lost in Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil's tremendous score.

Jon Jon Briones

The casting is strong, with Eva Noblezada giving the performance of a lifetime as Kim. It’s hard to believe this is the star's West End and professional debut as she pours her heart and soul into every scene. At first her voice appears sweet and innocent but then she reveals the astounding power in her belt, for me Noblezada's rendition of the reprise of 'Sun and Moon' was the highlight of the show. It's remarkable to see someone perform with so much strength and vulnerability. 

Alistair Brammer & Eva Noblezada
Alistair Brammer makes the perfect Chris. He performs with ease and fight, impressing with his mature vocal tone during his rendition of 'Why, God, Why?' which provides another stand out moment. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat during 'The Confrontation' as both Brammer and Noblezada completely let go.

Jon Jon Briones owns the show as The Engineer. Briones first appeared in Miss Saigon when the original West End production opened in 1989. He has since starred as The Engineer in the US, Asian and UK Tours as well as in Germany and the Philippines, yet his performance remains fresh and full of life. Briones provides some much needed moments of light relief and injects energy and passion into the audience, bouncing off the brilliant ensemble.

Technically this new production is jaw droopingly good. Bruno Poet's lighting design is epic throughout, but particularly during 'American Dream'. I don’t often walk out of a theatre raving about a lighting design, but it’s impossible not to notice Poet’s magnificent work. Also, the famous helicopter scene certainly doesn't disappoint.

I decided to forgive the few vocal cracks and strained voices as the cast have had a demanding week packed with press performances. I felt disconnected at times and thought one or two performances lacked detail, but this was most likely to do with my seat. Laurence Connor's production is certainly worthy of five star reviews.

Of course it's impossible not to compare Miss Saigon to Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil's other masterpiece, Les Miserables. I think if you were to see both shows for the first time you would find Saigon far easier to follow, although Les Miserables arguably has more stand out songs. Ultimately both shows are absolutely incredible and deserve to run and run for evermore.

If you have never seen Miss Saigon you must fight for a ticket to see this phenomenal revival. The musical has been given a makeover so those who have seen the show before can look forward to experiencing something slightly different and, as already mentioned, the cast are outstanding. I could feel the love in the theatre before the performance had even begun and the entire audience leapt at the end of the night. Miss Saigon has landed in style.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Miss Saigon is currently booking at the Prince Edward Theatre until 25th April 2015.
Click here to book tickets.

Photo Credit 1-3: Matthew Murphy 
Photo Credit 4: Michael Le Poer Trench

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