Previewed 3 May 2014, Opened 21 May 2014, Closed 27 February 2016 at the Prince Edward Theatre in London
A major new production of the Schönberg and Boublil musical Miss Saigon in London.
The classic love story of our time. Set against the terror and chaos of the last days of Vietnam in 1975, Miss Saigon tells of the love between a young Vietnamese girl and an American soldier. In a society torn apart by the aftermath of a war... the American dream becomes a symbol of salvation... and two people, the victims off fate. Originally staged at the Drury Lane Theatre in 1989, this brand new production marks the 25th Anniversary of Miss Saigon in London. For this new production the musical's writers, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, have written a powerful new song called 'Maybe' for the role of 'Ellen' to sing in the second act.
When this revival opened in London Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph said that "the trick of the show, and of this superbly slick, powerfully acted and splendidly sung revival, is that while you are watching, it often feels like the greatest musical you have ever seen... Laurence Connor's production has a cinematic fluency and he keeps the dramatic tension simmering throughout." Neil Norman in the Daily Express noted that "premiered in 1989 this revival shows its central theme to be even more powerful today: that the legacy of war is not just death but also life," concluding that it's "an impressive production that is fundamentally opera for people who don't like opera. A stone cold hit." Dominic Maxwell in the Times wrote that "Laurence Connor's revival makes a couple of missteps but mostly it is a powerful production of an undoubtedly melodramatic story that earns its contrivances with the sheer skill of its score and the strength of its central story. It's no match for Les Mis, but it's performed here by some brilliant leads." Michael Billington in the Guardian explained this revival "survives very well as a piece of musical storytelling and as a public spectacle... all told, the evening leaves one admiring the technical skill of Laurence Connor's production, the musical staging of Bob Avian and the designs of Totie Driver and Matt Kinley." Nick Clark in the Independent highlighted that "the production is opulently staged and tremendously slick," adding that "the blockbuster set pieces are the real selling point of the show. The fabled helicopter is back and better than ever; the chaos of the fall of Saigon is excellently done." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail thought it "is staged with such insistent extravagance that it bludgeons its way to success" while Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard hailed the show's "stirring return to the West End," noting that "it's less operatic than before and has a grittier feel. Yet it remains a huge spectacle, and the music surges and soars... Laurence Connor’s revival is visually rich."
The musical Miss Saigon was inspired by a tale of an Asian American romance that began with the publication of a story by John Luther Long called Madame Butterfly in Century Magazine in 1887. David Belasco adapted it into a play, which the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini adapted into his opera Madama Butterfly in 1904.
The cast features Eva Noblezada as 'Kim', Alistair Brammer as 'Chris', Jon Jon Briones as 'the Engineer' and Tamsin Carroll as 'Ellen'. Musical with music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr and Alain Boublil, adapted from original French lyrics by Alain Boublil with additional lyrics by Michael Mahler. This new production is directed by Laurence Connor with musical staging by Bob Avian, additional choreography by Geoffrey Garratt, set designs by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley from an original concept by Adrian Vaux, costume designs by Andreane Neofitou, lighting by Bruno Poet and sound by Mick Potter.
"On its 25th anniversary, classic musical Miss Saigon has made a triumphant and passionate return to the West End. With an exceptional leading lady in 18-year-old Eva Noblezada as Kim and a very handsome Chris, played by Alistair Brammer, the much-anticipated revival was in very safe hands... Every development was like a big fat stomach punch, helped along by the sweeping music and superb performers, both on stage and in the orchestra." The Sunday Mirror
"Boublil and Schönberg's Miss Saigon is enjoying its first major London revival in a slick production by Laurence Connor, with added lyrics by Michael Mahler, which are both grittier and more graphic than the originals... Newcomers Eva Noblezada and Alistair Brammer, are fine as Kim and Chris. Jon Jon Briones is bravely slimy as the disreputable Engineer but, as ever, the stars of this show are the sets, designed by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley from a concept by Adrian Vaux. The lush score and power ballads grow wearing, though, and the production remains stubbornly unmoving." The Express on Sunday
"The show has already set a new box office record, with takings of £4.4m the day booking opened. What is the secret of its new success? Partly the sheer fame of its machinery. Partly the fact that music and words are by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, who made many people happy with Les Misérables. Just possibly – though this may be bien pensant – it is due to a post-Iraq relish for the subject matter... This is a show that flaunts the notion of liberal sympathies while cruising on commerce. The opening scene, set in a brothel, seems to deplore the idea of fleshpots, yet shows every girl not as worn down but as gorgeous. Lament, which is the default mode of this musical, is so raucously rendered that it sounds triumphant." The Observer
"Though it's filled with lush melodies, there's something short of greatness about this piece, though it's once again magnificently staged and sung... Laurence Connor's revival vividly captures the squalor and amorality of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, and dazzles with a showstopping staging of American Dream... What's missing is warmth or pathos. There's lashings of sexy dancing and snogging, often mid-duet, and masses of slush... Inspired by Madame Butterfly, this is a story of doomed love and the unbridgeable political and cultural divide between East and West. And the second half opens with an unbearably manipulative film of Vietnamese orphans languishing in rusty cots in overcrowded orphanages. I'm all for having my conscience prodded but a great musical plucks one's heartstrings, too." The Mail on Sunday
Miss Saigon in London at the Prince Edward Theatre previewed from 3 May 2014 and opened on 21 May 2014 and closed on 27 February 2016.
Previewed 6 September 1989, Opened 20 September 1989, Closed 30 October 1999 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London
Musical with music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr and Alain Boublil, adapted from original French lyrics by Alain Boublil. This production directed by Nicholas Hynter with musical staging by Bob Avian, set designs by John Napier, costume designs by Andreane Neofitou, lighting by David Hersey and lighting by Andrew Bruce.
"The biggest star of the show is a helicopter. The great white metal bird descends to airlift the American evacuees out of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War when the Vietcong are at the city gates. The effect is astonishingly cinematic and pushes the frontiers of staging as far as they can go. There are several such coups de theatre by designer John Napier that make this modern Madame Butterfly, by the writers of Les Miserables, so stunning to behold. Like Les Mis, it is a sung-through show in which every word of dialogue is set to music but no real tunes emerge despite the snatches of melody in the rock ballads. The lyrics, however, are beautifully succinct... Alain Boubll and Claude-Michel Schonberg are clearly attempting a modern Les Miserables with this updating of the Butterfly legend. Their theme is the same: Dogged survival against seemingly insuperable odds. But the focus of their new story lacks the epic sweep of Victor Hugo's great melodrama and cannot claim the same tragic stature as Puccini's Butterfly." The Daily Express
"The slick and beautifully produced Miss Saigon was destined for success long before it opened... Probably once again the special effects take star billing and this production has all the ingredients considered necessary for a modern musical... I nurture a sneaking longing to see a new West End musical designed to give us joy and laughter. But if your idea of a perfect night at the theatre ends with a good cry, this is just for you." The Daily Mirror
"A musical about Vietnam? I confess I approached Miss Saigon at Drury Lane with trepidation... What I found was an unusually intelligent and impassioned piece of popular theatre: revamped Puccini with a sharp political edge. The show's creators, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, unashamedly take off from Madame Butterfly. Starting in Saigon in 1975, they show Kim, a 17-year-old Vietnamese apprentice whore, falling for Chris, a GI. Vowing eternal love, they are inevitably parted during the American evacuation. Three years later. Chris is a married man in Atlanta; Kim is rearing his child in Ho Chi Minh City. After shooting the commissar who was her childhood sweetheart, Kim escapes to Bangkok with her Vietnamese pimp, who sees her and the child as his passport to America, But, as students of Puccini will expect, Chris returns to the East to confront his quondam lover... At heart, the show is a love story; but, for those with ears to hear, it has obvious political resonance... Mr Hytner and his designer, John Napier, certainly give us spectacle, but it springs from the story rather than being superfluous show: the raising of a towering golden statue to Ho Chi Minh embodies Communist worship of secular idols just as the descent from the flies of a helicopter into which American marines are unceremoniously bundled, expresses something of the poetic hastiness of the American evacuation. But as in his operatic work, the good thing about Mr Hytner’s production is its sharp-edged clarity and its emphasis on narrative values... It is rare and refreshing to find popular theatre that relates personal to the political." The Guardian
Miss Saigon in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane previewed from 6 September 1989, opened on 20 September 1989 and closed on 30 October 1999.