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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Miss Saigon, at Her Majesty's Theatre, 160 minutes, including a 20-minute interval

Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Miss Saigon* has stormed onto the Her Majesty’s Theatre stage, captivating an enthusiastic audience anew.

It last played at the same theatre 16 years ago.

Photos by Daniel Boud

Miss Saigon is a deeply emotional work, featuring soaring vocals and exemplary production values – sound, lighting, choreography and visual effects.

Based on Giacomo Puccini’s 1904 opera Madama Butterfly, it is an epic love story.

It is the tragic tale of young bar girl Kim, orphaned by war, who in 1975 falls in love with American sergeant Chris.

But their lives are torn apart by the fall of Saigon.

The musical spans three years, from the month the Vietnam War ended (April 1975) to October 1978. The action takes place in Saigon, Atlanta, Georgia and Bangkok.

Seann Miley Moore exudes charisma, sass and savagery as the Vietnamese hustler known as The Engineer. He operates the bar and brothel where he has just introduced Kim.

Moore’s dynamism is apparent from the opening scene and reinforces his command of a demanding role throughout.

His “look at me” persona is enriched by Andreane Neofitou’s colourful costuming.

18-year-old Abigail Adriano is a real find as sweet-voiced Kim (who is 17 as events in Miss Saigon take off).

Nigel Huckle’s vocalisation as her lover Chris sears with emotion.

Kerrie Anne Greenland has immediate impact as Ellen when she appears towards the end of the first act. Ellen’s presence jolts Kim and The Engineer’s plans. Greenland’s vocal proclivity is impressive.

Nick Afoa is commanding as Chris’ fellow GI and friend John.

Laurence Mossman exudes menace as commissar Thuy, Kim’s cousin, to whom she was promised when she was 13.

Kimberley Hodgson brings a big voice to experienced hooker Gigi.

There are eight alternates as the young child Tam. On opening night it was five-year-old Archer Wang and he was adorable and polished.

In fact, the entire principal cast is from Australia and New Zealand, which just goes to show the depth of talent in this part of the world.

The sets are candy for the eyes – detailed, elaborate and evocative, and they are wheeled in and out seamlessly.

From when the curtain first goes up, the staging and myriad moving bodies transport us to the hustle and bustle of Saigon (renamed Ho Chi Minh City at the end of the war). Richard Jones’ choreography is a feature.

The world-renowned helicopter scene remains an eye-catcher more than 30 years after the musical first opened in London’s West End.

Photo by Johan Persson

The music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr and Alain Boublil, and additional lines from Michael Mahler, is outstanding. Concertmaster Sulki Yu and Orchestra Victoria ensure the numbers continue to resonate.

Director Jean-Pierre Van der Spuy and musical director Laura Tipoki have done a superb job with the 42-strong cast. The full company is well and truly on song.

The demonstrative nature of this show – a Tony and Olivier Award winning production – makes it a must see.

Miss Saigon, which is playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre until 16th December, 2023, is triumphant – no less than a musical masterpiece.

* This Cameron Mackintosh production opened in London in May 2014


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