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Review Miss Saigon Palace Theatre, Manchester by Ian Hills

Miss Saigon is a musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr. It is based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, and similarly tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving a woman abandoned by her American soldier lover.

The setting of the plot is relocated to 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War and Madame Butterfly’s story of marriage between an American lieutenant and a geisha is replaced by a romance between a US.GI and a South Vietnamese bar girl.

In the last days of the Vietnam War, 17-year-old Kim, Sooha Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer, Red Concepcion. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris (Ashley Gilmore) but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese. For three years Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris who has no idea he’s fathered a son.

Miss Saigon shows you the madness and terror of war, and the desperate lives of the young Vietnamese women as sex workers and go-go dancers for the American troops under the ever-watchful eye of the local bar owner and pimp called The Engineer.

The stage designs by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley brilliantly take us from the tacky squalor of the Dreamland Bar, where most of the action takes place, to the evacuation from the American Embassy in Saigon. The helicopter flying over your head in surround-sound and landing on the stage must be one of the most exciting scenes I have ever seen staged in a theatre. The costumes, lighting and sound bring it all together to create an authentic 1970s Vietnam.

Seventeen-year-old Shooha Kim as the shy innocent Kim from the countryside gives a brilliant performance and her beautiful singing voice lends the show its heart and soul. There were moments when she moved the audience to tears. Ashley Gilmore gives a powerful performance as her lover Chris, with a real chemistry working between them, while Red Conception is memorably seedy as the unscrupulous money obsessive Engineer and he steals the show with his big number ‘The American Dream’. With a very strong cast of 60 actors, singers and dancers and a full orchestra, this production does full justice to the music and songs of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil.

Director Laurence Conner’s production has pulled off one of the most spectacular and beautiful musicals you’re likely to see at the Palace Theatre. I urge you to see it. You will not be disappointed.

Miss Saigon runs until Saturday 12th May at the Palace Theatre, Manchester.

Phone 0844 871 3019 or buy tickets in person from the Palace Theatre Box Office.

To buy tickets online go to www.atgtickets.com/shows/miss-saigon/palace-theatre-manchester.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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