Miss Saigon - Her Majesty's Theatre
Sun 05 Nov 2023 - Sat 16 Dec 2023
The stage production Miss Saigon
has returned to Melbourne's Her Majesty's Theatre, where it was performed 16 years ago. This Tony and Olivier Award-winning production will only play in Melbourne for a 7-week season until December 16 before moving on to Adelaide. So, catch the sensation if you can.
The Melbourne opening of Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s award-winning musical follows a successful season at the Sydney Opera House, where the production received thunderous applause and standing ovations.
We attended the opening night. The atmosphere was electric as Her Majesty's was jam-packed with vibrant expectancy. All attendees got to strut the red carpet, from those who had ignored the black tie/ cocktail dress code and turned up into jeans to those in inexpensive strapless flowing dresses to those like me who had raided Vinnies. One has to love Melbourne's non-conformist attitude to dress codes.
Celebrities included Cameron Robbie (Neighbours
actor and younger brother of actress Margot Robbie) and Georgia Love, the former Bachelorette
star. Other celebrities included singer Rob Mills, comedian Joel Creasey, AFL star Darcy Moore, and reality star Ash Pollard. As I left, I saw Sean Micaleff singled out to comment on the performance. As one of our most intellectual and wittiest commentators, he was a good choice.
Melbourne's theatrical transgender population was out in force wearing striking outfits and battering-ram eyelashes. I assume many had come in a bombardment of support for Sean Miley Moore, who brings queer camp excellence to his role as The Engineer, who plays a pimp who runs a bar come brothel. Moore, who is also known for competing in season 12 of the X-Factor UK
and season 10 of The Voice Australia
, is a whirlwind presence on stage that has to be seen to be believed.
tells the story of a young Vietnamese woman, Kim, who, at 17, is orphaned by the Vietnam War and forced to work in the bar run by the Engineer. This is a wartime brothel for American GIs, and in one scene, there are so many simulated sex scenes this musical might not be the best option for young teens.
The Engineer - is selling off Kim’s (Abigail Adriano) virginity to the highest bidder. Chris, an American GI, falls in love with her, and she lives with him briefly before they are torn apart by the Fall of Saigon. Despite his obvious affection for Kim he returns to the States and marries an American. 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.
Post-war, Chris returns to Asia with his new wife. I won't spoil the ending, but it is enough to say Kim will lose everything to American interests and that this story will move you deeply.
The plot is inspired by the 1904 opera Madama Butterfly
(Kim's character changed from a geisha in Japan to a bargirl in Vietnam). Still, to my mind, it was also reminiscent of Graham Greene's 1955 novel The Quiet American
. Greene’s novel looked at early American involvement in the Vietnam War, and there is a relationship between an American CIA agent named Alden Pyle and Phuong, a young Vietnamese woman. Phuong symbolised Vietnam, an Empire to be won over by the Americans. The character of Pyle stands for the American interests in Vietnam.
And there are many telling details in Miss Saigon that Kim also represents Vietnam - and a country torn asunder. These hints gell when Chris, meeting with his 3-year-old son for the first time, claims him by dropping a baseball cap on his head. As if saying forget your Vietnamese heritage, American culture is everything important in life.
This production is in conjunction with Opera Australia. Miss Saigon
has music by Claude-Michel Schonberg with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil, As well as a sensational local cast of 42, representing all corners of the Asia-Pacific. Miss Saigon features a spectacular full 24-piece orchestra and memorable scores, including Broadway hits like ‘The Heat is On in Saigon,’ ‘The Movie in My Mind,’ ‘Last Night of the World’ and ‘American Dream.’
There are many spectacles, from the domineering figures of Ho Chí Minh and the Statue of Liberty to the waving flags held by synchronised dancers and the fire-breathing dragon. The lighting and pyrotechnics are sensational.
One of the defining moments of the production is a Vietnam-era helicopter landing on stage during the depiction of the Fall of Saigon. An astounded audience is left gobsmacked by how this could possibly happen inside a theatre.
PERFORMANCES OF NOTE
The entire cast puts their all into this production. Even some minor characters are standouts, such as Kerrie Anne Greenland as Ellen, the American wife, and Kimberley Hodgson in the role of Gigi.
Abigail Adriano, at only 18, won the coveted role of Kim. Her voice and her performance are heart-wrenching. Singing from a young age, Abigail performed in Tim Minchin’s Matilda the Musical when only 11, and also on The Voice Kids Australia and in the Netflix/ABC television series The Unlisted.
Her soaring vocals are laden with emotion.
Nigel Huckle is a standout as Chris, and the chemistry between he and Kim is electrifying.
But the most ear-shattering applause was reserved for Seann Miley Moore as the Engineer: the 137-year-old theatre seemed to shake with the reverberations of clapping as people rose from their plush velvet seating to clap some more.
Given some of the explicit nature of the show and the language, it may not be suitable for children. For most adults, it is undoubtedly sensational theatre and powerful drama.
Tickets are on sale now, starting from $79, and you can get them [https://miss-saigon.com.au/tickets/ here.]
267937 - 2023-11-03 14:26:42