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Miss saigon artwork

all about theatre 5 str review

When I was 18 I went to see my first ever musical, Miss Saigon and it was this show which kick started my love of theatre. So when I heard that Sheffield Theatres were producing the first non replica regional production of Boublil & Schonberg's legendary musical I just knew I had to see it.

This production is directed by Robert Hastie and Aunthony Lau and I was a bit nervous at how they were going to make the show work on the crucibles thrust stage and what changes they were going to make but I need not have worried as this production blew me away.

Shane O’Riordan (John) and Joanna Ampil (The Engineer) in the Crucibles production of Miss Saigon. Photo by Johan Persson

Miss Saigon is based on Giacomo Puccini's 1904 Opera Madam Butterfly (My favourite Opera) and tells the story of Kim a Vietnamese girl who falls in love with an American GI named Chris. Set in 1975 during the last days of the Vietnamese war we see Kim & Chris torn apart as Saigon falls and Chris is forced to leave Vietnam without Kim but promises he will come back for her.

As I walked in to the Crucible theatres auditorium for the first time I was greeted by its large thrust stage and Ben Stones set design which features just a small TV screen in the centre of the stage and a large metal staircase against a large grey metallic looking back wall. The stage and the wall flickered with pops of colour like static on a TV screen and sat around the edge of the stage were some of the cast waiting to burst in to action at the start of the show. The staging and set for this production are stripped back and very few props are used during the show the use of lighting and projections are used very cleverly by lighting designer Jade Hackett and video & animation designer Andrzej Goulding to add some pops of colour to the dark and dreary stage. This stripped back approached on set and staging worked well as you became far more focused on the characters and their interactions and you weren't distracted by an elaborate set. As This production is performed on a thrust stage it really made you feel like you were part of the show as you were fully immersed in the action happening on stage. A big reason this stripped back staging and set worked so well was the amazingly talented cast as the focus of the audience was drawn to them so it was vital that the performances were strong and they were, the whole cast gave outstanding performances.

Members of the company in the crucibles production of Miss Saigon. Photo by Johan Persson.

One of the big changes in this production was the casting of a woman in the role of the engineer, a role which has always traditionally been played by a man. Joanna Ampil was perfectly cast in this role and she commanded the stage from the outset, with her powerful vocals and outstanding acting ability she was able to show a different side to a character which has always been seen as a very manipulative and self serving individual. Ampil was able to bring a bit of vulnerability to the character giving her a bit of humanity and allowing the audience to empathise more with the character. I have seen may productions of Miss Saigon and Ampil's take on the role of the engineer is by far my favourite making her the stand out performer of the night for me.

Joanna Ampil (The Engineer) in the crucibles production of Miss Saigon. Photo by Johan Persson

Jessica Lee in the role of Kim was outstanding she played Kim with such intensity and her beautiful and powerful vocals suited the roll so well. Christian Maynard gave a strong performance as Chris, his vocals were fantastic and the chemistry between him and Lee was believable, their voices worked so well together and I especially enjoyed their duet "Last Night Of The World"

Other performances that I loved included Shanay Holmes's portrail of Ellen her acting through the song Maybe was just perfection along with her phenomenal vocals. Shane O'Riordan as John was excellent as he seamlessly changed from an arrogant young Gi in act one to act two's guilt ridden man trying to pay for his sins by doing some good and helping the children of the Gi which were left behind in Vietnam, this results in the song Bui Doi and O'Riordan's rendition of this song is just stunning.

Jessica Lee (Kim and Alternate Mimi) and Christian Maynard (Chris) in the crucibles production of Miss Saigon. Photo by Johan Persson.

Jade Hackett is the choreographer in this production and she has done an amazing job, from the high energy choreography in the Heat is on is Saigon to the amazingly militant chorography in

"The Morning Of The Dragon" it is a delight to see on stage. I particularly enjoyed the numbers where the whole ensemble performed together on stage as it was very powerful and mesmerising.

Some of my favourite scenes in this production include the number "The Heat Is on In Saigon" which is set in the Dreamland Bar and introduces us to all the main characters this scene is the big opening number and it really got me excited for the rest of the show. I also loved the intensity between the two leads in "Last Night Of The World" and I thought the way this scene was stage with the lighting help add to that intensity and it was a really beautiful scene. The American Dream Dream sequence was great fun and show the engineer transformed into a Marilyn Monroe type character surrounded by an ensemble of Dancing dollar bills. The famous helicopter scene was done superbly with the use of lighting, sound, projections and a few other tricks this scene was very powerful and did not disappoint.

Ernest Stroud (Ensemble) and the Ensemble in the crucibles production of Miss Saigon. Photo by Johan Persson

Sheffield Theatres revival of Miss Saigon is an exceptional piece of theatre with an extremely talent cast. This production made me leave the theatre thinking Wow! what have I just witnessed, it is definitely without a doubt the best piece of theatre I have seen this year. I have told my husband he needs to buy a ticket and go see this show as I know he will absolutely love it. I can't recommend this show enough so go get yourself a ticket before its too late.

Miss Saigon is running at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield until Saturday 19th August 2023

you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

If you would like more information about the musical you can find it by clicking on the button below.

Photo Credit - Johan Persson

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review


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