In 1997, my Papa took my sister and I to our very first West End Musical and it was Miss Saigon. I grew up singing the songs and I have the entire soundtrack memorized, so it was the first (and only) musical on my list. I remember coming into the theater and being ushered onto the box seats. It was my first West End musical and I was watching it from exclusive box seats — what a treat!
Experiencing West End
Joanna Ampil was playing Kim that season but it was her understudy that played when we watched. No offense, but the only Kim I knew and cared about (back then) was Lea Salonga so it didn’t really matter to me who played. Since it wasn’t Lea… I was there for the story. To finally see the songs sung on stage and to see whether my imagined version is even near to the actual masterpiece.
Of course it was all that I expected and more. And although I knew the story by heart, I found myself sobbing through most of ACT 2, especially when Kim pulled the trigger.
Miss Saigon is still the best musical for me. I have not seen much but of all that I’ve seen on stage, it’s the one that truly made my hair rise, my heart pump, and my eyes well up with tears. Finally seeing Miss Saigon after years of just hearing it on the player was a dream come true. And again–to be watching it from the box. Ha!
Miss Saigon in Broadway
I watched the 25th Anniversary Special of Miss Saigon on television, with my sisters. I watched the West End cast play it and I was thoroughly impressed with Eva Noblezada (Kim), Alistair Branner (Chris), Rachel Ann Go (Gigi) and of course Jon Jon Briones (The Engineer). Finally a cast that can rival the original—and I devoured the entire spectacle with much satisfaction.
When we were deciding on which musical to see during our recent NYC trip, we had quite a few shows in mind–Anastasia, The Waitress, A Bronx Tale. My two sisters saw The Book of Mormon the first night, and decided they wanted to see one more. Actually we really wanted to see Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen, but that was not going to happen (at least not on this trip). In all honesty, Miss Saigon wasn’t first on our list but when the curtains started rolling to open ACT 1, I knew we made the right decision.
Eva and the rest of the cast was superb and almost immediately I was being transported to 1997 when I was watching Miss Saigon for the first time. Hands down: it is still my #1 favorite and since the company is playing its last few shows in Broadway, we felt very lucky to have made the decision to see it.
West End to Broadway
Miss Saigon, whether in London or New York is a magnificent work of art. I grew up obsessing over the songs, before I could even really understand what the words meant, because as a Filipino it gave me a sense of pride.
I remember being in 3rd grade and auditioning for Paulinian Youth Choir with a pitiful falsetto of “Sun and Moon”. It was the only musical I knew back then and I was (and probably still) obsessed with it. So it was a dream come true for me to finally see it in 1997 and to see it again, in New York this year.
My sisters, serious Tony fanatics, felt the same way. And if you asked my dad he’d tell you that Miss Saigon was his favorite too (having seen it a dozen of times) because it was an exhilirating show with sexy girls in bikini. Hehe. By the way, before you get any ideas, I took my dad to sew Chicago in West End sometime in 2001 and he slept half of the time so it’s not really the mere presence of bikinis that appealed to my him. Miss Saigon is really something–that’s the absolute truth.
And although I didn’t get to see Miss Saigon here in the Philippines when it was shown years back. Why should it matter when I can now say that I’ve seen it in West End and Broadway?