Cast Announced for 'Miss Saigon' 25th Anniversary Production at London's Prince Edward Theatre
We always knew it would happen. The famous helicopter in the musical (actually, it's a through-sung rock opera, but let's not quibble) Miss Saigon is set to land again in London--along with the rest of the show, in a new production. The occasion is the 25th anniversary of the original and will reunite several of the original team, notably producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, and composer and lyricist Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil. The cast is mostly new, with one or two returnees and promotions.
As with the original production, Mackintosh undertook an international search for someone to play the hugely demanding title role. They found the 17-year-old Eva Noblezada and will no doubt be hoping for a similar "Kim effect" as happened with Lea Salonga, their first Kim, who went on to musical theater stardom.
The new Kim is an American of Philippino extraction, resident in North Carolina and, according to a just-released promotional film, her audition video blew the creative team away. From the Philippines themselves, Rachel Ann Go was selected to play the supporting role of Gigi (it's a disproportionately important role relative to its size, because Gigi has the first verse of the show's first solo number, the haunting "Movie in My Mind.") And Go is a star, herself, in the Philippines, having won a TV talent competition.
The scene-stealing role of The Engineer, so memorably created by Jonathan Pryce, will be taken by Jon Jon Briones, who has played the part before, graduating from the original ensemble. Another Mackintosh discovery is Alistair Brammer, who first came under the producer's radar when still a student, performing the Les Misérables schools edition. He was invited to sing Marius in a special finale during that show's 25th anniversary concert, at London's O2, then in the West End production. He followed that by playing one of the student revolutionaries in the film version, the play War Horse in the West End and now he will play Saigon's male lead, Chris.
Elsewhere, John (who has one of the score's best songs, "Bui Doi") will be played by Hugh Maynardm, who has toured the role. Ellen will be played by Tamsin Carroll, most recently seen working wonders in Mackintosh's production of Barnum in Chichester. And this Ellen gets a new song (well, new to London, it was written for the Dutch production).
Laurence Connor directs (a tough task perhaps, with memories of Nicholas Hytner's blistering original still alive). Musical staging is by Bob Avian with additional choreography from Geoffrey Garratt. The show opens at the Prince Edward Theatre (where previous Mackintosh ventures have included Mary Poppins) on May 3, 2014. A press release notes that when the production went on sale in September 2013, it broke the record for the biggest single day of ticket sales in West End and Broadway history.