Touring – reviewed at Palace Theatre, Manchester
Boublil and Schönberg’s Miss Saigon is one of my all-time favourite musicals. I saw the show twice at the Prince Edward Theatre and have watched the 25th-anniversary film countless times. The stunning music, moving story and all-round spectacle, makes it one of the most emotive, moving and timeless musicals.
Telling the story of 17-year-old Kim, this classic musical set during the Vietnam War, is a story of love, pain and heartache. After watching her village burn, Kim is forced to accept a job in a Brothel, run by the Engineer. There she meets Chris, a GI, and their doomed romance begins.
Adapted from Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly, this features one of the most swooping and virtuosic scores. Boublil and Schönberg’s music draws you in from the opening notes and perfectly accompanies the high emotion and mental state of the characters. Expertly played by the outstanding orchestra, it’s a complete and utter joy to hear the intricately stunning music live. The orchestrations are worth the ticket price alone.
At this performance the role of Kim was played by alternate, Joreen Bautista, whose natural youth and vulnerability shine through from the moment she steps on stage. Vocally she is extremely strong but there were a few times where I was longing for just a bit more oomph. However, there’s no denying that Bautista is a star in the making and at only 17 I’m sure she has an amazing theatrical career ahead of her.
Kim’s love interest, Chris, is played by Ashley Gilmour who is perfectly torn in the role. Ashley’s vocals are outstanding, especially his performance of Why God Why? The two have great chemistry with one another and bounce off each other throughout the whirlwind romance.
Ryan O’Gorman plays Chris’ fellow GI and later on crusader for the Bui Doi, John. Again the duo have a clear chemistry and genuinely seem like very close friends. Ryan’s vocals are supremely strong and his character development throughout is fantastically clear and well thought out.
As the infamous engineer, Red Concepción is wonderful. His constant transitions from friendly to evil, mean you can never decide whether he’s a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’. Red has perfectly mastered the humourous side of the role and has balanced it well with the mean, calculating side to create a well-rounded, multi-layered character. His performance of The American Dream is one of the most memorable theatrical experiences.
The supporting cast are equally as impressive, Gerald Santos as Thuy, Aicelle Santos as Gigi and Elana Martin as Ellen do a wonderful job of progressing the story, emoting their scenes and delivering stellar vocals.
Miss Saigon is musical theatre at it’s best. A direct transfer from Broadway, this touring production has lost none of it’s sparkle and is full of so many intricacies that the experience is visceral and moving.
Miss Saigon begins a 6 week run at the Bristol Hippodrome from May 16th.
photo credit: Johan Persson