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Miss Saigon review: Theatre Royal's latest musical sees great chemistry mixed with astonishing vocals

PUBLISHED: 13:43 18 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:03 18 August 2018

Christian Rey Marbella as The Engineer in Miss Saigon. Picture: Johan Persson.

Christian Rey Marbella as The Engineer in Miss Saigon. Picture: Johan Persson.

Archant

Blockbuster musical Miss Saigon has landed in Norwich - and it's a spectacle not to be missed.

One of the spectacular dance numbers in Miss Saigon. Picture: Johan Persson.One of the spectacular dance numbers in Miss Saigon. Picture: Johan Persson.

Premiering in the West End at the end of the 1980s, Boublil and Schonberg’s Miss Saigon came out of an extraordinarily creative and successful period in musical theatre.

The 1980s was the era of the blockbuster musical and saw the debuts of shows such as The Phantom of the Opera and Boublil and Schonberg’s earlier hit Les Miserables, which still play to packed houses today.

And Miss Saigon is right up there with them. Here Boublil and Schonberg take Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly and relocate the tale of a doomed romance to Saigon during the Vietnam War.

Having fled when her village was burned to the ground, 17-year-old Kim arrives in Saigon. There she meets the shady Engineer who puts her to work in the seedy Dreamland bar. She falls in love with Chris, an American GI, but as Saigon falls they are separated. Kim spends three years trying to find Chris, who is unaware he is the father of a son, Tam.

The spectacular helipcopter evacuation scene in Miss Saigon. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal.The spectacular helipcopter evacuation scene in Miss Saigon. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal.

This touring version of the show, produced by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, has landed at Norwich Theatre Royal for a five-week run – and it’s not to be missed. While the score isn’t quite as memorable as its predecessor, Les Miserables, from the emotional rollercoaster ride of the romance between Kim and Chris to the spectacle and sensory overload of the famous helicopter evacuation scene, it sets the bar high.

Sooha Kim gives a heartbreaking performance as Kim. Her vocal range is astonishing and her portrayal of a mother prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to make a better life for her son is one that will linger in the memory.

She has great chemistry with Ashley Gilmour who plays GI Chris – it’s a homecoming of sorts for the actor, whose parents live in Feltwell, near Thetford.

Sinister yet magnetic, The Engineer lights up the stage. His star-spangled song and dance number The American Dream is a real highlight of this production and Christian Rey Marbella deservedly got the biggest cheer of the night.

Sooha Kim, who plays Kim in Miss Saigon at Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: Johan Persson.Sooha Kim, who plays Kim in Miss Saigon at Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: Johan Persson.

Miss Saigon is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday, September 15. Box office: 01603 630000/ theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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