When people often talk about epic love stories they usually respond with Romeo and Juliet or Titanic or Gone With The Wind, but the one they forget is the heart-wrenching tale of the Vietnamese Brothel Girl and a US Marine.
Miss Saigon has stormed into the Birmingham Hippodrome to continue it’s hotly anticipated UK and Irish Tour. Having last toured over 10 years ago this revamped production boasts a cast of over 65 each night and took two days to unload its sixteen trucks into the theatre.
The show instantly transports you into the middle of the Vietnam War where a young girl called Kim (Sooha Kim) flees her village and is taken to ‘Dreamland’ where we soon discover the degradation the women of the time were subjected to. It is here she meets and falls in love with GI soldier Chris (Ashley Gilmour) and we are witness to the start of a romance for the ages.
Sooha is experienced in the role having previously played it in London and Japan. She executes the innocence of Kim perfectly in the first act however it felt that a bit more grit would have cemented an almost perfect rendition. Her solo I’d Give My Life for You was emotionally draining, as it hauntingly echoed around the auditorium. Ashley Gilmour partners well with Sooha offering a stellar performance of Why God Why and portraying a man clearly affected by war. Both Sooha and Ashley executed all their duets with absolute raw emotion, particular highlights were Sun and Moon and Last Night of the World.
They were joined by an array of excellent and memorable supporting characters. Head brothel girl Gigi (Marsha Songcome) expressed her plight to be freed in the spine tingling The Movie in My Mind her voice soared to the roof. You could have heard a pin drop as she commanded the short time she spends on stage. Zoe Doano played a lovely Ellen and had a pleasing solo Maybe, whilst Gerald Santos (Thuy) made the move from childhood sweetheart to the soon to be short-lived cunning leader.
The Engineer is a character that demands either love or hate from the audience. Red Concepcion’s Engineer was the absolute highlight of the show. His natural charisma oozed from the beginning and had you almost feeling sorry for him; his American Dream was visually stunning to experience.
Miss Saigon proves nothing short of a blockbuster production and sometimes lives in the shadows of its brother show Les Miserables, but this production really does hold its own. It was sometimes a bit too busy on stage, detracting from the action, but this hit really provides an experience of a lifetime and if you don’t go and see it then you really are missing out.
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