It was when the last cymbals and gongs were hit and the beating of the drums got drowned and distant that made me realize the extent one can sacrifice in the name of love. Miss Saigon refreshes us of that very thing—that love transcends all forms of boundaries that limit it, and love is a powerful tool to weather the storm.
Set in 1975, fanning from the Vietnam War, fall of Saigon and the Reunification, we find a young Vietnamese girl named Kim selling beaucoup amour in a club for survival. She then met Chris, an American Marine, who is almost fed up with all the fire and powder and who is caught in a senseless war fought out of a lost cause. Eventually, the two fell in love and led us to a journey in trying to keep their love alive amidst a broken vow, a world torn by war, a poignant and an uncertain future and betrayal. Hence, the line “how in the light of one night did we come so far?”
I have been a fan of Schonberg and Boublil for quite a long time now and their notable works. I am well acquainted with the original 1989 ensemble where Lea Salonga, Simon Bowman, and Jonathan Pryce starred. And because of this, I can’t help but compare the 2014 West End cast with the former. But I am at awe at how the latter owned and transformed the show; I’ve reconciled the differences and come to love the performance of the revival cast.
I got to say, that [Eva] Noblezada, who played Kim, came very raw but managed to fit for the role. There were moments in her performance where her voice just became shrilling thin and fine that gave me the impression that she is very young for the role unlike Lea [Salonga] who came very mature and gave a very strong Kim during her time. But Eva played it so well that she gave a new and fresh Kim to the audience. She has a lot of potential and a bright future ahead of her.
[Alistair] Brammer however, who played Chris, is incomparable to [Simon] Bowman. The two owned the character in their own way that comparing their performances seem uncalled for. Brammer exhibited such power and embodied Chris like he knows the character from a different perspective. It’s like Bowman showed us Chris’ right hand while Brammer showed us the left without confusing the audience.
Jon Jon Briones and Rachel Ann Go are notable as well for their performances. Jon Jon, who played The Engineer, still has it. He played it cool and new and gave it a new touch as compared to when he played the role before. Whereas Rachel Ann Go, who played Gigi, gave us a new flavour to savour and dream about.
The entire production was refreshing with some of the lyrics changed, new songs introduced, the choreography and the staging itself came as a surprise and gave us that wow element that did not disappoint the audience. But what made Miss Saigon the Miss Saigon we know is the tragic love story behind the Vietnam War. You are a stone if you did not cry during some notable numbers in the show; The Movie in My Mind, Sun and Moon, Last Night of the World and I Still Believe to name some. The pivotal points being Thuy’s Intervention, The Wedding Ceremony, The Confrontation between Ellen and Kim and the Finale.
Schonberg and Boublil know their craft and know the facets to use to saw a good storyline. Following Les Mis, taking something out of a photograph they saw on a magazine and transform it into this sensational musical, it takes incredible talent and imagination to put and pull this—things that these two authors don’t seem to lack.
This musical is just full of awe and it’s something that everyone who fell in love, experienced love, loved and never got that feeling reciprocated, still believing and hoping need to watch and just cry it all out.