Saturday, 25 March 2017
The Joint Senior Production of Miss Saigon was a sell-out success. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the audience was instantly transported from the Arts Centre to the gritty and sleazy atmosphere of the Dreamland Club during the opening number The Heat is On in Saigon. The tragic story, based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, centres around the whirlwind romance between Chris, a disillusioned American soldier and Kim, a desperate and naïve orphan, forced to work at the Club.
Matthew Kay assumed the lead role of Chris, while Caroline Blair and Molly McLaughlin gave alternate performances, sharing the lead role of Kim. The standard of their performance was exceptional and highly convincing: the roles were maturely and sensitively portrayed without being trite or over-sentimental. Adam Whitmore ably supported with strong vocals in his role as John, Chris’ fellow comrade, while George Morgan exuded charm, adding some comic relief in his role as The Engineer, the seedy and corrupt club owner who longs to live The American Dream. Jean-Paul Asumu countered with a menacing performance as Thuy, to whom Kim was formerly betrothed. Other stand-out performances came from Ellen Bate, in her role as Chris’ American wife, who balanced dignified restraint and impassioned despair, as well as Sian Rowlands, who played Gigi, the showgirl whose brash exterior dissolves to reveal her true vulnerability.
The often sequin-clad supporting Ensemble assumed a range of demanding roles and impressed with their slick choreography, gymnastic ability and vocal cohesion. Indeed, both the cast and band dealt admirably with Boublil and Schönberg’s highly complex musical score with its dialogue reminiscent of operatic recitative. The committed performances by all lent a professional edge to the production as a whole – indeed, one had to remember that one was watching a school production. After months of collaboration and long hours of rehearsal, Miss Saigon emerged a triumph. Congratulations to all involved!
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