Miss Saigon. ( A show review )

A show not to be missed… even if you have been hit by a car!!!!!

Super excited that my old room mate and friend from tour ( Norm Ofstead )  was coming to London, Via a 24hr layover due to his new job with Delta Airlines, I couldn’t wait to spend the day with him.

                             friends, London,
                          Photo courtesy of Norm’s Phone. Thanks Norm 😉

Being from a theatre background ( thus how we met each other) he had mentioned how he had always wanted to see a stage production of Miss Saigon. Being the great friend that I am  *insert winky face* I got up , somewhat early on my day off, and queued for discount day seats for the revival of the show at the Prince Edward Theatre. Being told by another friend who had done the same thing to get there at 8am – for when the doors open at 10am, I swatted away that idea and got there for a healthy 9am and was 11th in line. Fast forward to an hour later and I was the proud holder of two £20 tickets, and what I later found out to be great seats in the front row.

After seeing the show I can only urge people to go and do the same. London is an expensive city but you can’t go wrong for £20 can you!.
( maybe there is a blog in there somewhere about awful things to do for £20, we will see haha )

Tickets purchased I went and met my friend and his work colleagues for a quick morning walk around London town. I will get to the review in a second, but I just need to give a mention to that fact,  that around mid day I had to leave my friend for 4 hours ( just 4 hours! ) to attend a casting and as I was finished up I received a message saying that he was hit by a car!!!!. He was riding on a Boris bike/ Barclays bike and some Jerk who was meant  to give way just didn’t stop and hit him and then drove off, who has the courage/cowardice to just drive off !!! When I arrived at the Hospital he had some minor bumps and bruises but thank god he was not seriously injured.

Determined to not miss the show I took a somewhat still in shock and limping friend to go see it. I was scared he would have flash backs during the helicopter scene in a ‘Apocalypse Now’ Post-dramatic stress kinda way, but thank god he didn’t ;)Turns out he loved it and it was worth 20 year wait to see it!! And the morale of this part of the story is that the show is not to be missed – even if you have been hit by a car!

Only knowing a few of the songs from the show, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but as soon as the curtain went up I was hooked. It was such an immersive piece of theatre. Without breaking the ‘4th wall’ I felt that i was involved in it and to somewhat of an extend, I knew the conditions of the war.

Everything about this show was amazing, The set design, the costumes, the orchestra and the oh so talented of cast.

Such detail was paid to making sure the audience were transported to Vietnam. For the Orchestra it must have been great getting to use some instruments that I presume were from the Vietnam region, which helped to produce some sounds that I have never heard before. Sitting in the front row we could hear the music so perfectly and it did not disappoint.

The choreography was fantastic. Needing to be very sexual at times and then militantly strong in other places. It was great to see a cast that could all dance as well as each other. With the majority of the cast being of Asian heritage I do wonder if over time they will have trouble with recasting, I can see people wanting to stay with the show for a while. With its rave reviews and sold out shows hopefully it will have a long West End Shelf life.

With elements such as the Helicopter and incorporating wind machines , it really added to that 4th dimension of the musical. This was one of the most powerful scenes, when the helicopter leaves and therefore leaving the majority of the public in the war zone and separating families. Such a powerful and emotional scene especially when the cast turned round to the audition and let out such sobs and screams of desperation.

It is such a big sing for the role of Kim, every song being not only vocally powerful and strong but also emotionally demanind. We had the alternate Kim – Tanya Manalang, on that night and both her and the male lead – Alistair Brammer were phenomenal. Both vocally consistent throughout the show, they took us on this ‘Romeo and Juliet’ style love story emoting to every scene and really drawing the audience in.

                                           
The son, ( of Kim and Chris ) at first I just thought was wooden and a little lifeless but as the show went on it really added humour and after the initial annoyance I actually warmed to him and his connecting with ‘Kim’

I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of the new wife’s character – ‘Ellen’ played by Tamsin Carrol. Although a very strong singer and actress herself, for some reason or another it didn’t sit as well for me. I felt  her character was much older then ‘Chris’ and their dynamics wasn’t as genuine as that of ‘Chris and Kim’. That being said I know there has been troubles in other productions with that part with adding and taking away songs etc. So maybe it’s just the track itself and not the performer I wasn’t sure of.

The Engineer played by Jon Jon Briones was great casting. He was very talented and humours and you can tell that he has played the part before as it was a stand out performance – especially within his song ‘If you want to die in bed’.  Another mention goes out to ‘Gigi’ played by Rachelle Ann Go, who was a great addition to the cast.

Wowed by the whole show and surprised throughout, especially at the end, I can’t recommend this show enough. If you can only see one show this year let it be Miss Saigon.!!!!

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