[REVIEW ROUNDUP] Miss Saigon

After a long hiatus, Miss Saigon returns to the West End at the Prince Edward Theatre.

For its 25th anniversary staging, Miss Saigon pulled all the stops in its opening night, including lighting up the London skyline with a firework show so extravagant, that it even prompted complaints from some local residents.

As one of West End’s most celebrated musicals, Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre is already touted as the one of this year’s most anticipated show.

Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's wonderful score delivered with intensity by its new cast, led by 18-year old Eva Noblezada, who takes on the role of Kim.

This landmark role has launched many careers including Lea Salonga, who won an Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Theatre World awards for her West End and Broadway performance.

Rounding up the cast for Miss Saigon are Alistair Brammer (Chris), Jon Jon Briones (The Engineer), Tamsin Carroll (Ellen), Hugh Maynard (John Thomas), Kwang-ho Hong (Thuy), and Rachelle Ann Go (Gigi Van Trahn).

Here's what the critics are saying about Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre:

Dominic Maxwell, The Times: The 18-year-old Eva Noblezada is particular is a sensational find as Kim. The Engineer, played with a brilliant, avaricious charm by Jon Jon Briones. I spent a lot of the first half feeling I was being played, and a lot of second half not minding that a bit as the dramatic stakes got higher and higher.

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: It remains a huge spectacle, and the music (by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil) surges and soars. Laurence Connor’s revival is visually rich. While Bob Avian reprises his choreography from the original show, there’s a lavish new design by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley. Beautifully lit by Bruno Poet, it conveys the opulent sleaze of the Vietnam nightclubs and also creates moments of intimate ardour and panoramic horror. 

Michael Billington, The Guardian: In his new production by Laurence Connor, it survives very well as a piece of musical storytelling and as a public spectacle. It’s not a show one loves, in the way one does Guys and Dolls or Sweeney Todd, but I found myself watching it with a professional admiration. Jon Jon Briones (playing The Engineer) makes him even a grubbier, sleazier figure who is the victim both of his background and pathetic fantasies that see him in the penultimate number, The American Dream, pleasuring himself on the bonnet of a Cadillac.

Charles Spencer, The Telegraph: Part of Mackintosh’s extraordinary skill as an impresario is that he keeps his product in brilliant nick and markets his shows with great flair. This new production of Miss Saigon broke box office records on the first day that tickets went on sale.

But the trick of the show, and of this superbly slick, powerfully acted and splendidly sung revival, is that while you are watching it, it often feels like the greatest musical you have ever seen.

The 18-year-old Eva Noblezada is extraordinarily vulnerable and touching as Kim, and her raw, deeply felt performance and soaring voice lend the show its heart. There were moments when she moved me to tears. Alistair Brammer gives a powerful performance as her beloved Chris, though fails to generate much warmth, while Jon Jon Briones is memorably seedy as the unscrupulous Engineer and gets maximum value from his big number The American Dream, the one moment in the show of Broadway razzle dazzle, albeit accompanied by dark sardonic humour.

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail: The evening has one real show-stopping number, The American Dream, and one gasp-inducing coup de theatre – the arrival of the chopper. They are just about enough.

Mark Shenton, The Stage: Miss Saigon is full of glimpses of, and glances towards, other shows from South Pacific to Pacific Overtures, too, as well as its operatic source. But it remains a striking, occasionally strident, example of musical theatre craftsmanship. I wish it hadn’t been burdened here by over-production, but there’s no question that audiences are getting their money’s worth, and that it will be a massive hit all over again.

Nick Clark, The Independent: The producers took a real gamble in putting an 18-year-old with no credits to her name into a lead role but it pays off handsomely. She was spotted after reaching the finals of the National High School Music Theatre Awards in the US. She handles the music with ease and brings an emotional range that belies her years.

The best part in Miss Saigon goes to Engineer by turns unpleasant, funny, oily and charismatic. Jon Jon Briones, who was in the original cast as part of the ensemble, gets his teeth into the role with relish and received the warmest applause of the night.

Neil Norman, Express: Director Laurence Connor keeps the stage filled with activity and moves things along with admirable speed.

The brothel scenes are suitably lurid and there is a heavily ironic similarity between the well-drilled dance of the Vietnamese army in front of a huge bust of Ho Chi Minh and the well-drilled chorus girls of The American Dream in front of The Statue Of Liberty.

Of the many fine songs I loved The Movie In My Mind, Sun And Moon, If You Want To Die In Bed and the new addition Maybe.

You can Book Tickets for Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre Online or by Calling our Box Office on 0207 1939050 from Monday to Friday at 8am - 8pm and Saturday to Sunday at 9am – 7pm.

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