“Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.
This week in Katz Reviews is the Broadway revival of ‘Miss Saigon.’ Telling a melodrama that is gut-wrenching and heartbreakingly beautiful, ‘Miss Saigon’ is the doomed romance of a U. S. G. I. and a victim of the Vietnam War who has just lost her entire family.
An opportunist, known as The Engineer- played with gusto by Jon Jon Briones- takes the teenaged Kim in, but only to exploit her as a hooker for G. I. Troops. But when Kim, played by Eva Noblezada, meets Chris, played by Alistair Brammer- it’s love at first sight.
Alistair Brammer, Eva Noblezada; photo: Theatermania
Because this is from the same team that created ‘Les Miz’- producer Cameron Mackintosh, book writer Claude-Michel Schonberg and director Laurence Connor, the lovers’ ecstasy quickly turns to tragedy- and the heartbreak is only ratcheted up as the story progresses.
Okay, so it is on the bombastic side. And that’s just the music!
Though the songs are not as powerful or memorable as in ‘Les Miz,’ that sets a very high bar and this creative team still knows how to push the emotional buttons- and tell a powerful story, too.
And this cast belts out the songs spectacularly well.
The Engineer reminded me of the character of Thenardier- he of the famed “Master of the House” number in ‘Les Miz.’ He’s an opportunistic bad guy who also provides some comic relief- but this one sometimes does show he has a heart.
Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer; photo: Theatermania
Also, as in ‘Les Miz,’ there is a key scene with a giant wall- as well as the appearance of the ghost of a deceased character coming back to haunt a living character.
And, like ‘Les Miz,’ this, too, is a big Broadway spectacular- but the cast is more than big- it’s huge!- about 40 actors. And they frequently march, dance and sing in unison…. Well, I did say it was bombastic.
Yes, it has the famous big helicopter landing scene…though in this version it is done mostly in shadows. But it’s still an impressive effect.
And all this spectacle doesn’t mean ‘Miss Saigon’ isn’t emotionally moving. It is. And Eva Noblezada as Kim is marvelous and deserved her Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. She has been in the show along with Briones and Brammer for the entire run of this revival- as well as in the earlier West End production. They work well together.
I give this revival of ‘Miss Saigon’ 4 stars out of 5. It runs through the end of the year, when they will leave the Broadway Theatre to make room for another big spectacle: King Kong.
Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com, where you will find all my WICC 600 reviews.
This is Ed Katz talking theater for WICC 600!”