Cameron Mackintosh has opened his UK tour of Boubill & Schonberg’s hit musical Miss Saigon at the Birmingham Hippodrome where it will run for the entire summer season. Some would say this is a bold move by the Hippodrome, as the summer show is usually family friendly, not one filled with hookers, dodgy deals and enough misery to give Les Misérables a run for its money.
The story takes place during the Vietnam war and revolves around the whirlwind romance between a young barmaid, Kim (Sooha Kim) and the handsome American G.I. Chris (Ashley Gilmour). When the war forces them apart all they can do is think about being reunited. Based on Puccini’s opera Madam Butterfly, Miss Saigon is a roller-coaster of highs and devastating lows, yet this production seems to be just a kaleidoscope of colours, songs and outstanding sets, lacking much of the emotional content for which it strives. The story moves so fast, from one moment to the next, that the audience is so bombarded that it does not have time to savour the many exceptional moments.
The show was definitely stolen by the slimy entrepreneur, the engineer, played by the amazing Red Concepcion. Red is the light relief this show needs after all the moments of heart break. He constantly has the audience laughing one moment and the next cowering in fear. With a character that has such polar opposites it was great to sense the audience on the edge of their seats every time he came on stage anticipating what this disgusting businessman was going to do next.
This new UK tour of Miss Saigon is playing ten different theatres in 14 months. The reason they can’t go to more is that it is such a huge production to mount (it takes them 16 trucks and over £100,000 to move the show between venues) that not many theatres in country have a stage large enough to accommodate it. That being said, the show is an incredible spectacle of design and artistry coming together to create a production that is visually stunning.
This production of Miss Saigon, although sometimes lacking the emotional content for which it is famous, is still one of the most creative and dynamic pieces of theatre I have seen in a long time. Maybe not a family show, but one that is certainly worth seeing for the spectacle alone. ★★★☆☆ Georgina Randall 2nd August 2017
Photo © Cameron Mackintosh Ltd