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"Miss Saigon" Stars Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada at the Broadway Theatre
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"Miss Saigon" Stars Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada at the Broadway Theatre

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Cameron Mackintosh
Presents the New Production of:

Boublil & Schönberg’s
Miss Saigon
(Miss Saigon Website)

Adapted from the original French text by Alain Boublil
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Alain Boublil
Additional Lyrics by Michael Mahler

Starring:
Jon Jon Briones
Eva Noblezada
Alistair Brammer

With:
Katie Rose Clarke, Nicholas Christopher
Devin Ilaw, Rachelle Ann Go, Suri Chen

And an Ensemble of Actors/Singers/Dancers

At the
Broadway Theatre
1681 Broadway at 53rd Street
NY, NY
212.239.6200

Director: Laurence Connor
Musical Staging/Choreography: Bob Avian
Orchestrations by William David Brohn
Musical Supervision by Stephen Brooker
Musical Direction by James Moore
Production Design: Totie Driver & Matt Kinley
Design Concept by Adrian Vaux
Costume Design: Andreane Neofitou
Lighting Design: Bruno Poet
Sound Design: Mick Potter
Projections: Luke Halls
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting/Merri Sugarman, CSA
Press: The Publicity Office
General Management:
Aaron Lustbader for Foresight Theatrical

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 12, 2017


The most thrilling show on Broadway this season is the revival of the 1991 Alain Boublil (book and lyrics), Claude-Michel Schönberg (music), Richard Maltby, Jr. and Boublil (lyrics) Miss Saigon. Every detail and element of this show at its original home, the Broadway Theatre, where it ran for a decade, is magnificent. The lead cast embodies this 1975-1978 Vietnam War musical drama, a 20th Century version of Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly, with exceptional vocal talent (Eva Noblezada as Kim), magnetic dramatic presence (Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer), and romantic fervor (Alistair Brammer as Chris). Laurence Connor’s direction keeps the shifting scenes, of the 1975 Saigon Dreamland brothel and club for US Marines, the 1978 Ho Chi Minh City and Atlanta, 1978 Bangkok, and retro 1975 Saigon landing of the military helicopter, to evacuate the US Embassy and remaining marines, seamless and mesmerizing. Broadway Theatre was sold out and packed, and when the helicopter blades opened the show, reappearing in Act II, cheers broke out in vocal adoration. Bob Avian’s musical staging and choreography (with additional lyrics by Michael Mahler and additional choreography by Geoffrey Garratt) completed the gestalt of this rare evening at the crème de la crème of Broadway revivals.

The Vietnam era plot is uncomplicated and tragic, with Kim, a 17 year-old orphan of the war, brought to Dreamland brothel by The Engineer as an expensive virgin. When the marines arrive for an evening of pleasure, one of the officers, John (Nicholas Christopher) insists that Chris take one of the girls inside. Eyeing Kim, John purchases some time with her for Chris’ mood elevation. Neither Chris nor Kim are eager, but both are persuaded, through pressure and mutual chemistry, and they immediately fall in love. Kim takes Chris to meet her friends, and he unwittingly participates in a flowery, candle-lit wedding ceremony. Kim rejects additional pressures from Thuy (Devin Ilaw), who was arranged for betrothal by their parents. He becomes a communist commissar and, on discovering in 1978 that she now has Chris’ son, from the wartime affair, he tries to kill the child, forcing Kim to shoot Thuy with a gun left by Chris. Chris has meanwhile climbed aboard that giant, imposing helicopter in 1975, after futilely searching for Kim, and returned to Atlanta to marry Ellen (Katie Rose Clarke). John, in 1978, is in charge of reuniting Vietnamese children of American soldiers, in an Atlanta conference scene, and he brings Chris and Ellen to Bangkok to locate Tam (Suri Chen), now three, Chris and Kim’s love child. Like Madame Butterfly, the child is swept up by Chris and Ellen, as Kim takes her life. Meanwhile, The Engineer has multiple fates, from riches, to more riches, to rags, although that thematic thread is more opaque. What, however, is abundantly clear, is that The Engineer is a salesman, a snake, and a survivor, with Mr. Briones superb and stupendous in the role.

Mr. Briones, Mr. Ilaw, and Ms. Noblezada, among cast and ensemble, were the most memorable, as well as another denizen of Dreamland, Gigi (Rachelle Ann Go). The vocal purity of Ms. Noblezada’s singing made me want this show to last all night. This is a sung-through production, and the songs and orchestrations transport the audience throughout. Mr. Briones is a showman, with versatile dramatic depth. Through the bravado, he evoked a sense of pathos and a glimmer of insecurity. But, in the big, brassy Cadillac scene he brought the house down. Mr. Ilaw, as well, as the rejected fiancé, evoked fear in the viewer, as he was made of steel. In various battle scenes, he filled the spotlight with strength. Little Suri Chen, as Tam, in a silent role, was maturely poised. Mr. Christopher, Mr. Brammer, and Ms. Clarke, as Chris, John, and Ellen, filled out the cast with dramatic eloquence. Kudos to Cameron Mackintosh for bringing this show back for a second run. I hope this enthralling new production lasts another decade or more.



Alistair Brammer and Eva Noblezada
in "Miss Saigon"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy



Devin Ilaw in "Miss Saigon"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy



Jon Jon Briones and the Cast of "Miss Saigon"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net