Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Boublil and Schöberg’s award-winning musical, Miss Saigon, premiered at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre on Friday night and let me tell you now – you’re not going to want to miss this one.
With a star-studded guest list, the red carpet was rolled out and the drinks were flowing as attendees poured into the historic venue. From the moment it began the show was mesmerising, telling the tale of Kim (Abigail Adriano), a young Vietnamese girl who lost her family during the war. The production follows Kim as she is taken in by ‘The Engineer’ (Seann Miley Moore) and works as a prostitute before meeting an American soldier, Chris (Nigel Huckle) and falling in love. Each member of the cast gave everything to their performance and it was impeccable to say the least.
Opening with a devastating scene of war, the gunshots and effects immediately gripped the audience, with audible gasps heard throughout the theatre. Immediately we are introduced to the protagonist Kim, and Adriano’s performance is a true highlight. At only nineteen years old, Adriano played Kim beautifully, her voice sweet and innocent as she sang of heartbreak and tragedy. The emotion on her face throughout genuinely made me forget we were sitting in a theatre and made the whole experience feel real. You genuinely cared for Kim, and this is a testament to Adriano’s flawless performance.
In this opening scene, we are also introduced to ‘The Engineer’, a cheeky character who serves as comic relief throughout the show. Played by Seann Miley Moore, this performance was a further highlight. Garnering hearty laughs from the audience throughout the show, Moore never missed a beat ands quick-witted humour was an absolute joy to watch. As slimy and irritating as his character was, those watching on were eagerly hoping he would achieve his dream of getting to America.
The Dreamland night club scene was truly a standout, with a fun musical number and amazing set design, although intentionally hard to watch as Kim is forced into this brutal and unloving environment.
Abigail Adriano, Sean Miley Moore, and a young Tam. Photo: Daniel Boud.
It is here, though, that we meet Chris. Played by Nigel Huckle, Chris is an American soldier who is tired of buying women and getting drunk. He wants nothing to do with Saigon’s nightlife, however his friend, Mr John (played by Nick Afoa), insists he spend a night with Kim. Kim and Chris fall in love immediately, and it is here that we get treated to the romantic number – “Sun and Moon”. As someone who can never get enough of a cute romance, this was a beautiful moment for me. Adriano and Huckle’s voices meshed together so flawlessly and their movements were effortless as they sweetly ran and danced around the stage, with palpable and convincing chemistry.
As the story unfolds, there is a time jump in which we see Chris back home in America with his wife Ellen, played by Kerrie Anne Greenland, and a flashback scene which explains how Kim and Chris were so horridly separated. This scene is absolutely worth mentioning as the effects and set were mind-blowingly amazing. With a helicopter that swooshed around and moved up and down, flashing lights and gunshots/fireworks. This scene gave me goosebumps and only added to the intensity and tragedy of the show. Greenland’s performance as Chris’ wife was astounding. Immediately, it felt like we shouldn’t like her as we were all pining for Kim and Chris’ happy ending. However, the empathy in which Greenland played her character really made me feel for her and it was clear that she wasn’t the bad guy.
As incredible as Moore, Adriano, Greenland, Afao and Huckle’s performances were; it was little Tam, played by Archer Wang, who stole the show. With no lines and very little choreography, he quite literally just had to stand there and look cute and my goodness did he do a good job! As he was roughly swung around by The Engineer or lovingly cradled by Kim, he seemed totally unfazed by the fact that he was in front of over 1500 people and his cheeky smiles and unscripted fist-bumps had people awing and cheering each time he was on stage.
Once the show ended, there was not a dry eye in the audience. It was hard not to feel moved by the tragedy that unfolded before us which was testament to the unwavering performances and incredible production. Receiving a standing ovation, it was clear that this was a special performance for the cast too, as they visibly wiped away tears.
All in all, this was hands down the best musical production I have ever seen. I went in without knowing much about it, and came out wanting more. Miss Saigon is in Melbourne until December 16, and I could not recommend it more highly. Bring a box of tissues and prepare to be amazed as you are transported to 1970s Saigon and taken on a beautiful, tragic journey of love, longing and loss.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Miss Saigon is currently playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne, until 16th December. Tickets are available HERE.
The reviewer attended the performance on 3rd November.
Header Photo: Daniel Boud
An earlier edition of this article incorrectly stated that Tam was perfomed by Michael Nguyen Chang