Based on the classic opera “Madame Butterfly” and originally premiering in 1989 at London’s Theater Royal, “Miss Saigon” tells the tragic love story of Kim, a young female Vietnamese bartender, and Chris, an American marine, during the Vietnam War. This incredibly powerful musical has not come to Broadway since 1991, when it had a ten-year run of over 4,000 performances. It is the 12th longest running musical of all time. Its music has become an essential part of musical theater history, with moving songs such as “Sun and Moon” and “Bui Doi”. In fact, Westhill’s own marching band performed selections from “Miss Saigon” during their 2015 competition season.
It comes as no surprise that this iconic show is now making its return to Broadway in spring of 2017. The lead role of Kim will be played by Eva Noblezada, a 19-year-old powerhouse who has played the role at the West End since 2014. She was discovered performing at the National High School Musical Theater Awards at the age of 17. She has huge shoes to fill as the original Kim was played by Lea Solonga, who won a Tony Award, as well as a Laurence Oliver Award for the role. Solonga went on to become a wildly popular performer and voice actress, appearing in “Les Miserables” as Eponine, “My Fair Lady” as Eliza Doolittle, “Aladdin” as Princess Jasmine, and “Mulan” as the title role. Young Noblezada will have to put her own unique spin on Solonga’s classic portrayal of Kim.
In addition to this rising star, the role of the Engineer will be played by Jon Jon Briones, a film actor from the Philipines and a current London performer.
Most of the West End revival cast of the show is simply moving to America and continuing their performances here, with a few minor tweaks. The revival will apparently feature new set design and an extra song for the character Ellen. Ellen’s only number in the original version of the show was the gut-wrenching power ballad “Now That I’ve Seen Her“, so I for one am excited to see what other dimensions the new song will bring to her character.
The show will only be in New York for a year before it goes on national tour, so be sure to pick up your tickets as soon as possible. Don’t miss your opportunity to hear these poignant songs, learn some history, and be dazzled by the performances of these up-and-coming stars. “Miss Saigon” is certainly a show that has withstood the test of time to reach us today. As the soldiers would say in the opening number, “the heat is on”, so don’t miss out!