Reviewed by Katie Allen
I was excited to see the UK Tour of Miss Saigon was coming to Southampton. I was fan of the soundtrack as a teenager almost 30 years ago and used to listen to it on my Walkman along with Starlight Express and Cats. I was never lucky enough to see it in the West End but getting to see this tour more than made up for that. I’ve not seen such awesome production design and lighting outside of London and that combined with an extremely talented and entertaining cast I was blown away!
Based on Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, the musical focuses on the love story between Chris (an American GI) and Kim (a bargirl) set in the 1970s Vietnam war.
The show opens in a Saigon bar and brothel in 1975 – “The Heat Is On” – and for the next couple of hours I was transported to forty years ago and the other side of the world in the middle of a bloody battle.
Ashley Gilmour and Joreen Bautista as Chris and Kim have great chemistry as the ill-fated lovers. 18-year-old Joreen in particular showed maturity and talent beyond her years and I feel this won’t be the last we hear of her. I particularly enjoyed Ashley’s strong vocal – especially in Why God Why?
The supporting cast of Ellen (Zoe Doano), John (Ryan O’Gorman), Gigi (Na-Young Jeon), Thuy (Gerald Santos) were all brilliant but special mention must go to Red Concepcion as The Engineer. I suppose he is there as the light relief but he’s far more sinister to be just that. The charisma oozes out of him and he steals every scene he’s in. The American Dream was a particular highlight for me with a, what looked like, real Cadillac on stage along with Las Vega style show girls and boys.
I mentioned before the production design. I understand there are 17 odd trucks driving around the country transporting the Saigon bar, Kim’s flat, the US embassy, a hotel in Bangkok and many other sets. For a touring production this is ambitious, and I can’t imagine the logistics of trying to fit all that into a new theatre every week or so. The lighting also was spectacular whether it was spotlights on the individual bargirls in Saigon or the thousands of US dollars projected on the stage for The Engineer.
All in all, it was great! I can’t say much more than that. I enjoyed it immensely.
The Mayflower Theatre is very close to Southampton Railway station and there are quite a few car parks nearby. We tend to use the Grosvenor Square car park but use the outside part if you can as the multi storey can get very busy when the show finishes. It’s £3 flat fee after 6pm.
Tickets cost from £27.50 to £65 (booking fees may apply).
Miss Saigon is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 21 February to 17 March 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811