Liam Rudden: Miss Saigon is preparing to fly back into the Capital
IF YOU think about them, the numbers are quite staggering.
When Miss Saigon tours to the Festival Theatre next year for a five and a half week season from 17 January to 17 February 2018, it has the potential to play to an audience in the region of a staggering 92,000 people, over 46 performances.
Such is the draw of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical, famous for having a ‘real-life’ helicopter land on stage during the action.
There’s no denying it, like its run in the Capital, Miss Saigon is an epic.
A love story, it opens, as the title suggests, in Saigon, just as the Vietnam War comes to an end.
There, 17-year-old Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a pimp know as The Engineer.
One day she meets and falls in love with an American GI, Chris, but as the war comes to an end they are wrenched apart.
For three years Kim lives in the hope of being reunited with her lover, and of telling him he has a son... Fate, as ever, in these big dramas, has other ideas.
Producer Cameron Mackintosh’s first Miss Saigon premiered on the West End in 1989. His acclaimed new production, the third UK/Ireland tour of the show, was also a smash hit on the West End recently, and is identical to the one currently playing Broadway.
Last weekend I had a chance to catch it ahead of its return to the Capital.
The venue for my sneak preview was Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy - it translates as Gas Board Energy Theatre.
Despite that rather functional name, the Bord Gosh, as it’s pronounced - which sounds a lot better - is a sparkling example of a well designed modern theatre; with a low stage and gentle curves, audiences always feel close the action of whatever entertainment happens to be playing.
That I was back in Dublin was fitting, it was by the banks of the Liffey I watched the first tour back in 2001 when, on that occasion, The Point was the venue of choice.
Before being reunited with the strident score, my evening started backstage conducting a Facebook Live interview from the palatial dressing room of Red Concepcion, who was joined by co-star Ashley Gilmour - they play The Engineer and Chris respectively.
Great guys both, you can watch it on the Evening News Facebook page. Just go to ‘videos’ and click on the link.
That was followed by a back stage tour an the cast warmed up for the evening performance.
It never ceases to amaze me how a show is packed into limited wing space only to be transformed magically on stage.
Which was what Miss Saigon proved to be when I watched it again, magical and emotional.