LOVE and loss as Saigon falls is the crux of the matter in Cameron Mackintosh’s stunning new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical theatre masterpiece Miss Saigon.
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Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street
Based on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and set during the Vietnam war, the long-running musical tells the story of Kim, a young girl forced into prostitution by the sleazy Engineer after her village is bombed and her family killed.
When she is ‘introduced’ to Chris, a war-weary American GI one night, love blossoms only to be thwarted when the Americans are forced to evacuate.
Meanwhile, Thuy, her cousin, to whom she was betrothed as a child, arrives to take her home.
Now an officer of the North Vietnamese Army, his determination to win her back has tragic consequences.
Spanning more than three years, Miss Saigon is epic in every sense of the word, from staging to storytelling, orchestration to choreography, this production is a feast for the senses.
From the moment a helicopter thunders overhead as the lights go down, director Laurence Connor and associate director Chris Key ensure the pace never falters and bring a gritty truth to proceedings that eschews many niceties normally associated with musical theatre.
Imbued with a cinematic quality, never more so that in impressive set pieces such as The Movie In My Mind, The Morning of the Dragon and The American Dream, this is an edgy, dangerous, and emotional staging.
Throughout it all, Red Concepcion is by far the most engaging Engineer to date. Seedy and desperate, he retains a likeable quality and knowing humour that endears as he embarks on his, ultimately, devastating quest.
His is a bravura performance as are those of Sooha Kim and Ashley Gilmour as Kim and Chris.
As the tormented GI, Gilmour gives a natural performance, inhabiting the role with unconditional conviction. His rendition of Why God Why? is a highlight of the show.
Kim too, is a force of nature. Fiercely fragile she is simply phenomenal.
If some of the supporting roles perhaps lack the gravitas they require, the ensemble in general are mesmerising.
A little bit of Broadway magic has come to the Capital.
Runs until 17 February