Regular readers of mine will know that I have a minor obsession with a few musicals. Ok, a major obsession. Miss Saigon is one of them. I've seen the show twelve times and know all of the words from both the original production and the new one. I was even one of the lucky few to get tickets for the 25th Anniversary Gala back in September which saw the fabulous original Kim, Lea Salonga and other members of the 80's cast join the wonderful new ensemble for a celebration of all things Saigon.
Imagine my excitement, therefore when I was given the opportunity to see the show again this week, marking my thirteenth visit. This would be my fourth time watching the new Miss Saigon London revival, which is remarkable. Fresh from winning a massive nine What's on Stage Awards last week, the cast were rightfully really on a high.
So, what is it about this show that I love? It's basically everything. Containing some of the most beautiful music ever written for theatre, you can't help but be moved by the luscious melodies and the powerful lyrics. Even after all my visits, this was still the case on Monday night.
When casting this show the producers looked far and wide to get it right, and they certainly did. In the title role, Eva Noblezada as Kim is truly remarkable. Her heart breaking 'I'd Give My Life For You' will go down in West End history as one of the most powerful renditions of all time. When coupled with the fabulous Rachel Ann Go for 'The Movie In My Mind' it is obvious why these two beat off all the others in the best actress and supporting actress categories in last week's 'What's on stage' awards. In my favourite scene, 'Room 317' the love lorn Kim meets Ellen, Tamsin Carol in such a terribly painful exchange, where for the first time Kim realises her GI, Chris played by Alistair Brammer has married, rendering her strive for a new life a sad folly. The charming Brammer shows his depth of character in 'Why God Why?' and his interaction with Noblezada, particularly in arguably the show's most famous song 'The Last Of The World' is enchanting.
Then there's the Engineer. I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of this character in the original production, but Jon Jon Briones' portrayal in the revival really is a masterclass in stage craft and charisma. Engaging and funny with a lot less sleaze than his predecessors, the Engineer brings a much needed light interlude.
This was the first time I had seen Ethan Le Phong as Thuy, since he took over the role from best supporting actor winner Kwang-Ho Hong. Although not as aggressive as his predecessor, with a great voice, Le Phong brought an endearing quality to Kim's betrothed commissar.
I love to see covers and stand ins, particularly if I've seen the show before so I was delighted to see Callum Francis as John. Francis provided a more sensitive portrayal, with a gorgeous rendition of 'Bui Doi' the highlight of his performance.
With some the most impressive sets and lighting ever to have been conceived, this show really is number one. Could I go again please?