Miss Saigon Returns To Broadway, Still Powerful All These Years Later
Last night I had the opportunity to see the first Broadway revival of Miss Saigon, which opens officially tomorrow at the Broadway Theater in New York City. The original, which ran from 1991-2001, is considered by many to be one of the “best musicals” ever, and it is the 13th longest running Broadway show in history. So how does the revival hold up?
Fans of the original- which, it’s important to note, I also saw- will be thrilled to know that the show is just as powerful as ever, and absolutely worth seeing, even if, like me, this isn’t your first time visiting Saigon.
Without giving too much away, Miss Saigon tells the story of Kim, a Vietnamese woman who has lost her family in a bombing during the Vietnam War. When we meet her, Kim is 17 and at her first day of work at Dreamland, a Vietnamese brothel and bar. It is nearing the end of the Vietnam War, and she ends up sleeping with an American G.I. named Chris, who ends up falling for her. The rest of the story takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster that makes the almost 2 hour and 45 minute show fly by.
There are so many powerful moments in Miss Saigon that it’s hard to pinpoint my favorite; however, some of them include the famous “Fall of Saigon” scene, where a helicopter actually comes onto the stage, and the stunning act 1 closer, “I’d Give My Life For You.”
While Lea Salonga received critical acclaim for playing Kim, and is considered to be the definitive actress for the role, newcomer and young star Eva Noblezada certainly held her own in the title role. It’s interesting to note that this is her Broadway debut and, having only recently graduated high school, it’s impressive. Alistair Brammer, who plays Chris, and Jon Jon Briones, in the other main role of the Engineer, each held their own as well.
While there was much to appreciate and love in this production of Miss Saigon, that’s not to say it was completely flawless. The microphones seemed almost too low at certain points of the show, making a few of the lines hard to decipher, even though I had a rather close seat. Also, at certain moments, Brammer and Noblezada’s vocals didn’t seem as strong as they should have been for the roles they’re in. Their acting was 100 percent perfect the entire show and, while they vocally carried the show for the most part, there were a few moments where I found myself missing the original cast.
One other thing worth noting is a brilliant nod to modern politics during the song “American Dream,” which is a major number towards the close of the show. As everything “American” fades off of the stage at the end of the song, a brilliant line occurs where he says, “Wait. Come back. I can make you great again.” This received rapturous applause from the audience.
Regardless of my criticisms, they paled in comparison to how much I enjoyed the show. If you have a chance to see this revival- which is only open for a limited time- I’d highly suggest you get a ticket. The heat is definitely back on in Saigon, and that feels completely right.