Sun and Moon (Miss Saigon 2014)
Miss Saigon. Black inked helicopters splashed against the fiery background of a rising sun with the face of a young girl (possibly Kim or a personification of all the young girls forced to leave their homes and find ‘work’ in light of the ongoing war in Vietnam?) just visible. Boubil and Schornberg’s epic romance of a musical, based off the dramatic love story by Puccini in his opera ‘Madam Butterfly’ is landing in all its’ iconic black inked helicopter glory in London as of tomorrow for its’ 25th anniversary year and so I thought that the day before the preview madness starts I would try and scribble down a few of my thoughts on this beautiful piece of theatre.
The tragic love story of Chris, an American GI fighting in the Vietnam War and a abandoned Vietnam girl, Kim forced to scrape together a living by working at the Engineer’s sleazy American club ‘Dreamland’. Although it could be argued that this wonderfully tragic tale of tragic, youthful love affairs, family feuds, bitter love triangles involving Kim, Chris and Chris’s American wife Ellen is overshadowed by the masterful French duo’s French epic Les Miserables (now currently playing in the Queen’s Theatre London and on Broadway), thanks to Cameron Mackintosh’s masterful reinvention of the show, it is now being brought to a whole new audience at the Prince Edward’s theatre.
Although less well known to the younger generation than Les Miserables, who have Tom Hooper’s sweeping epic of a film to thank for it’s recent surge in popularity both on the fan sites and Tumblr, Miss Saigon still manages to charm millions across the globe.Its’ rock and roll vocals, powerfully tragic under narrative sparked through with jets of fire from the Engineer speaks to thousands across the globe that even in the sheer depravity that was the Vietnam War of 1954-75, a spark of hope can be found amongst the filthy rags and dim lighting of the brothel by Chris and Kim can ignite itself into a bursting, roaring inferno of passionate hope and love for a better, more hopeful tomorrow; contained perfectly in one of the many hauntingly beautiful duets such as ‘The Last Night of The World’ with its’ slow, almost melancholic saxophone notes and tragic undercurrents of approaching separation contrasted with the almost childish sense of hope that both Chris and Kim feel when they realise that their dreams to make a better lives for themselves in America, could become a reality.
As of September 2013, Miss Saigon became the 12th longest running Broadway musical in musical theatre history. Its’ timeless tale of love, loss and sheer, desperate hope continues to capture the imaginations of the millions who watch it across the globe; so much so that Schornberg has even decided to insert a new song in the middle of Act II for Ellen.
Titled simply ‘Maybe’, this song, although never heard in English before the previews open tomorrow at the Prince Edward, according to both lyricist and composer, draws the audience along with Ellen; pulling them further and further into the never ending spiralling state of desperate, bitter confusion she feels as she contemplates her feelings for Chris, Tam and Kim, who has been found alive by John.
Now onto the part of this post which I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. The cast of Miss Saigon 2014 have caused a rife of speculation throughout the musical’s incredibly small fandom, made up of people who remember the original cast and are still adamant that no-one can play Chris and Kim’s heartbreaking romance better than Lea Salonga and Simon Bowman and those, like me, who have been spending their free time scurrying through social media sites and watching every video, reading every tweet, every confession, on MissSaigonConfessions and flailing over every selfie put up on social media that they can get their hands on. I personally am thrilled to see that the cast is an unproven one. (Going to post a link here to the cast announcement made late last year- I’d love to know what you think…)
Sure Alistair Brammer’s last shot at a staged musical (not counting the 2012 film of Les Miserables where he played Jean Prouvaire or as Billy/understudy Albert for the heartbreaking adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel ‘War Horse’ which continues to stun thousands across the globe with the tragic tale of love, loss, redemption and reunited friends) was as Marius in the 2009/2010 cast of Les Miserables when he was still only 20, and I may be biased here because I’ve heard some of his more recent renditions via Tumblr and Eva Noblezada was an unknown schoolgirl studying in New York before she got scouted by Mackintosh’s casting director whose voice is being kept strictly under wraps for obvious reasons, really should be given more credit. Yes, they aren’t well known, yes, there are probably thousands of other known actors who could sing those songs, but singing isn’t everything and isn’t that the point?
It’s the emotion behind the vocals, the emotion behind the acting that really counts and I am sure that with the amazing cast behind them and all the support that they’ve already received they will pull it off to the packed houses anticipated at the Prince Edward and who knows; maybe in 10 years time, they could be, like Lea is today, household names for those lucky few who have seen and heard them perform. In lieu with the fliers and posters springing up all over Theatreland in London that are screaming: ‘Could Miss Saigon be the greatest musical of all time?’ and I am screaming, cheering, whooping right alongside with them.
Screaming, whooping, cheering too because maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of something great for musical theatre. Sadly I won’t be there to see it, yet, but I’m sort of hoping for a birthday miracle in the form of tickets if it’s still going come November; living in Scotland does have it’s pitfalls. However, I cannot wait to bury my nose in the first review I see and find out what the public, the critics and most of all the fans who have snubbed the cast for not being Lea et al, make out of it.
One final thought before I leave you to try and get some revision done: the heat is on in Saigon and to those lucky enough to experience the previews starting tomorrow, I hope that the blazing passion will ignite something inside your soul and will lift it, singing and soaring to the skies.
Much love, Phoenixflames12 xxxx 🙂