Miss Saigon in Manchester
Sat in the Stalls of the Palace Theatre in Manchester, I had mixed emotions. Of all the major West End musicals I’ve seen, I’d heard the least about Miss Saigon. Maybe because there’s no Miss Saigon film (yet), or maybe because the story is based on sensitive events that are still in living memory, this musical didn’t have the same hype.
But it should.
What is Miss Saigon?
First performed in 1989 on London’s West End, Miss Saigon is a musical based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly. However, whilst Madame Butterfly tells the story of an American lieutenant and a geisha, Miss Saigon is the story of a U.S. GI and a South Vietnamese bar girl.
FYI, if you ever get the chance, go see Madame Butterfly. I saw it whilst I was in high school, and while opera isn’t usually my thing, it was amazing.
The musical is inspired by a magazine photo showing a Vietnamese mother leaving her child at a departure gate at a military base as she believed the American G.I. father would provide a much better life for the child.
Set between 1975 and 1978, Miss Saigon shows events at the end of the Vietnam War including the evacuation of the American Embassy in Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh, and the reunification of Vietnam.
Miss Saigon UK Tour 2018
The Miss Saigon UK Tour is absolutely amazing because of four main things:
I’ve seen lots of musicals, and the story matters. Only a good storyline with a draw an audience in, make them fall in love with it and return time after time; Miss Saigon does this effortlessly.
It’s hard to cover such a sensitive event when its still in living memory. Obviously, it’s not in my living memory, but it is in my parent’s generation. I actually learned about the Vietnam War during my GCSE Modern History class and have visited the Vietnam War monument on Trek America.
The way that the script covers the event and issues is beautiful. It shows a fair depiction of the events with no bias, but also doesn’t shy away from the facts. Miss Saigon is about the human side of the Vietnam War and it’s done in a very respectful, but real way.
I don’t think it’s possible to create an incredible musical without great music. It’s the soul of any musical. Miss Saigon has some of the most powerful songs out of all musicals including The Movie in My Mind, I Still Believe, Bui Doi and I’d Give My Life For You.
From the highs of The Heat is On and the American Dream to the heartbreak of Maybe and Little God of My Heart, the music takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions and seriously sent shivers down my spine. The only other musicals that have done that to me are Blood Brothers, Les Mis, and Wicked.
The casting for the UK Tour is absolute perfection.
Red Concepcion is The Engineer in my eyes. For such a seedy, awful character, Red made him human and actually likable. He was hilarious, horrible and just a joy to watch.
Sooha Kim & Ashley Gilmour were such a perfect match and 100% believable. They made you feel like you were watching a real story play out.
I can’t talk about the cast without saying that Ryan O’Gorman’s performance of John was amazing. My heart broke during Bui Doi.
It’s pretty hard to transport an audience from a cold spring evening in Manchester, England to the humid streets of Saigon, yet that’s exactly what happened.
From a bar to an embassy, a helicopter to the streets of Bangkok, everything moved seamlessly and helped the audience believe the story.
I would 100% recommend going to see Miss Saigon. It’s an incredibly powerful musical and one of the best out there. If you want to get tickets for the UK tour, click here.
As always, I’d love to hear your theatre recommendations!