Miss Saigon and I have a history. I remember the 2004 UK Tour (direct from The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) being one of my first forays into musical theatre as I watched wide-eyed and awed from the very poor seats at the top/back of the Grand Circle at Manchester’s Palace Theatre.
Today, my love of Miss Saigon continued in earnest – I’ve recently had a brain cancer diagnosis and run of treatment, and this solo trip to London from my home in Manchester (400 mile round trip), is my first solo outing that I’ve had since April 2014 – such is my love for this show – my own little ‘American Dream’. (I’m also off to NY next week with my partner – expect lots of singing on my part, ha!).
I’ve recently seen, and reviewed, Ellen Kent’s Madama Butterfly (Puccini) currently on UK Tour, the story behind which lends key story elements to Miss Saigon, and I have to say, it only made me yearn for the West End production even more!
Despite sitting in the stalls, Row V – I was late to the £20 Tuesday matinée party online – I had very clear sight lines from seat 28, which is in the stage left side block of seating – I recommend them as ‘great’ if you’re not wanting to fork out for top-tier seats.
Technically, from my view-point, I think that watching the show works a lot better if you’re sat towards the rear stalls as you get the full visual from the stage AND you get the awesome surround sound effect of the helicopter.
The orchestra was immense, especially after so many months stuck out in the regions with ‘show bands’, and the sound quality produced is very nicely mixed – the score itself always gives me goosebumps (I find it SO much more involving and emotive than sister success, Les Mis). It was well deserved that the biggest cheer of the afternoon went to them!
Staging (set and lighting design) was magnificent, and the casting was SUBLIME! (In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they were second to only the original cast).
There were a lot of changes to both the staging and lyrics to songs, which I wasn’t expecting, and admittedly did leave feeling a bit cheated that the iconic scene with all of Ho Chi Min’s supporters giving their display of force with the flags has been replaced. The American Dream seemed rather short too.
However, all in all, I am thoroughly delighted with this version of the show – it made me cry, I fell in love with the Engineer again, I gasped at the helicopter (despite being a jaded theatre luvvie who both expected it and thought he had seen everything on a stage that you could reasonably see).
There really aren’t enough words to describe how much I implore you to see the current production, before cast change (I’m sure it’ll be equally as magnificent after!)