Miss Saigon, The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:
***** 5 Stars
“An unforgettable musical that lives long in the memory!”
There are musicals which truly transcend the art form of musical theatre with their epic scale, dedicated performances and sweeping score and stories, Boubil and Schonberg’s “Miss Saigon” more than meets those standards and mixes both west end and Broadway production values into the mix to deliver a truly unforgettable evening of theatre.
Miss Saigon is approaching its 30th Anniversary of its original production in London’s, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and in 2014 a brand new 25th anniversary production was unveiled, following a successful Broadway transfer that anniversary production has hit the road arriving into Edinburgh’s Festival theatre for a month long run and its only Scottish stop.
Based on “Madame Butterfly” the sweeping story is set at the height of the Vietnam conflict from April 1975 to October 1978 and focusing on 17-year-old Kim (an outstanding performance from Sooha Kim) forced to work in a strip joint under the control of “The Engineer” (a career defining performance from Red Concepcion). When a squad of American GI’s come for a night out Kim meets American Chris, a love story unfolds that cannot be as they are torn apart following the fall of Saigon, Chris goes home to fall in love and marry Ellen, however Kim is keeping a secret as well as longing to be with Chris. The Engineer is trying to achieve the one thing that alludes him, the American Dream. The stage is set for a story of Love, the strength of the human condition and tragedy.
This production of the show truly brings the west end to Edinburgh with uniformly excellent performances from the entire cast, with special credit to “Sooha” and “Red” but also smaller roles shine with Zoe Dano as “Ellen” turning in a finally tuned and beautifully vocal performance especially as she performs the productions brand new number (added for the 25th anniversary) “Maybe” with a deft touch of emotion. Na-Young Jeon also delivers a peerless vocal in her role as “Gigi” during “The Movie in my mind”. In the conflicted role of GI Chris, “Ashley Gilmour” turns out a performance so brilliant you simply forget he is acting and totally believe in the reality his character is facing.
The production is perfectly balanced with each act sharing epic set pieces the stand outs are “Bui Doi” an anthem to the lost children of the war, the fall of Saigon featuring perhaps the greatest special effect on stage in the uk and the titular “American Dream”
Miss Saigon truly has the goods with a stunning set design from production designers Totie Driver, Matt Kinley and the Late Adrian Vaux, outstanding costume design from Andreane Neofitou the sheer scale of the production must be seen to be believed, Director Laurence Connor has commanded the most talented of casts and production teams to deliver what is the greatest musical to ever grace the Stage of the Festival theatre.
The Festival theatre must be commended for ensuring this epic new staging of one of the greatest works in the musical theatre cannon has landed in Scotland. Beg, Borrow or steal a ticket and see for your self the most unforgettable of Musicals that will Live long in the memory, the west end has truly come to Edinburgh so don’t let it all be a movie in your mind, here’s to Miss Saigon, truly a musical for a generation.
Cameron Mackintosh Presents Boubil & Schonberg’s Miss Saigon, Festival Theatre Edinburgh runs until Saturday 17th February for tickets go to http://www.edtheatres.com/misssaigon