Review: Miss Saigon, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Once again, the Wales Millennium Centre has struck gold with its Christmas production. This year its Miss Saigon., famous for its helicopter scene, of which  I attended the press night, sceptical to see if the touring production would live up to the hype of a helicopter landing on the stage.

The show opens in the last days of the Vietnam War, where  17-year-old Kim (Sooha Kim) is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There, she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris but they are soon  torn apart by the fall of Saigon.

Sooha Kim who made her professional debut in the London production as Kim before going on to play the role in the Japanese presentation is simply stunning.  From playing the 17-year-old, timid girl thrown into working in a bar, to belting out songs like The Last Night of the World and I’ll Give My life For You, her performance range is outstanding.

Keeping the show moving and providing some comedic moments to lighten the heavy story line is Red Concepcion  as The Engineer.  He plays the character with a shining personality transforming a slimy character into a lovable rogue.  At one point, he is the only performer on stage but has the audience in the palm of his hands as he sings The American Dream.

Ashley Gilmou, who plays Chris and is another member of the original London ensemble that has upgraded their role for the UK tour. I loved the chemistry between him and Sooha Kim which develops from their first meeting to their eventual marriage.

Ryan O’Gorman as John was the reason I wanted to see this show. Having previously seen him in Rent earlier in the year, I was looking forward to watching him on stage once again.  I’m pleased to say he didn’t disappoint and BUI DOI, the song he opens with in the second half was a pleasure to watch.

Keeping it near to the end of this review, I’m pleased to report the helicopter didn’t disappoint.  Its arrival on stage complete with sound effects and atmospheric lighting all contributed to an incredible scene. Congratulations!

While the helicopter scene was brilliant, what stole the show for me were the lighting effects which allowed the scenes to flow smoothly from one to the next. Subtle lighting would light the area of the stage for a scene but keep the rest of the stage in complete darkness.  The whole cast would congregate on stage with several pieces of large set manoeuvred without a sound while one or two of the cast would be performing.  Also in other scenes the lighting would be used to highlight areas such as the faces of the cast or areas of the stage to create an overbearing atmosphere as in The Morning of the Dragon.

Every minute of this production lives up to the West End production, so don’t miss an opportunity to catch this show.

  • Miss Saigon is at the Wales Millennium Centre until January 6 2018.
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