Cameron Mackintosh presents the brilliantly told, tragic tale of a doomed romance about a young Vietnamese bargirl and an American G.I Sergeant during the Vietnam War in the 1970s.
It is based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera ‘Madame Butterfly’ but as these are individuals from different groups it is also the story of those most famous of divided young lovers ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
Kim (the Vietnamese bar girl) falls in love with the American G.I Chris but their love and lives and ruined by the fall of Saigon, the capital of the then SouthVietnam.
In this touring production of the legendary Schonberg and Boublil musical, the characters Kim and Chris, played by Sooha Kim and Ashley Gilmore. They played their characters so well, their on-stage chemistry was so believable that you thought they were destined to be together; every word between them made you think that they were actually telling the truth and confessing their undying love for each other. You could feel the deep and intense emotion that Sooha and Ashley were portraying to the audience; not just through their acting skills but also through their singing of the so heartfelt and warming ballads and duets. One of the most memorable moments for me out of the whole production with my favourite song being “Why, God, Why?” sung by Chris.
During the song “The Morning of the Dragon”, the dancing throughout that song with the Vietnam soldiers really stood out as th eensemble marched and danced in a such a rhythmic way with the music, all so much in sync and aware of the people around them as they performed with flags and other props such as guns. I also noticed that some of the dancers were wearing masks while they were dancing which is really hard to do as you would have to know the dance routine, where you have to stand; where you have to be at the end of the dance and your spacial awareness has to be 100% accurate.
Andreane Neofitou’s costumes were perfect for conveying the different characters and explaining, for example, why captures Kim was special to bar owner, The Engineer, played by Red Concepcion. Kim, as a virgin, was presented in a traditonal Vietnamese long white dress compared to the other Bargirls who were dressed in lingerie in bold colours as they performed the lively routines, “The Heat is On in Saigon” and “The Movie in My Mind”. In the wedding scene Andreane Neofitou also captured the Vietnamese culture in the outfits of the young girls and Kim.
The lighting designer, Bruno Poet, created evocative moods ; particularly during the song “The Movie in My Mind” when Gigi Van Tranh, one of the bargirls in the night club ‘Dreamland’ and voted as ‘Miss Saigon’; was singing. This was Gigi, played by Na-Young Jeon, telling the audience what she wanted out of life and the lighting definitely helped to bring her story alive for the audience.
Production designers Totie Driver and Matt Kinley, really brought the story to life with the Vietname settings and the props, particularly the helicopter that was descended oand took off from the stage during the scenes telling of the fall of Saigon when the American soldiers had to escape. The helicopter looked so life-like and real, especially with the sound effects. It really made the production spectacular.
Overall, this production is brilliantly produced and directed and I would defiantly go to see it again. It will make you laugh, smile and cry all at the same time. Cameron Mackintosh’s Miss Saigon is 100% a musical you cannot miss!
Until January 6.