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Miss Saigon's 25th anniversary breaks box office records


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Cameron Mackintosh took a gamble to bring his West End masterpiece Miss Saigon to the big screen, but it’s certainly a gamble that has paid off in spectacular fashion.

Breaking UK box office records for theatre performances and already prompting promising DVD release figures, it seems as if film and theatre fans nationwide do not want to miss Saigon.

Recorded live at London’s Prince Edward Theatre during the show’s 25th Anniversary Performance in September 2014, Miss Saigon follows the love story of American Soldier Chris and Vietnamese teenager Kim during the ill-fated Vietnam War.

Miss Saigon has been dazzling audiences since 1989

As someone who attended the show in London’s West End last year, I can say that the screen version is a carbon copy of the London performance; and if not even better than seeing the show in person. The show’s rich sets are portrayed to a very high standard, which makes the movie feel more like a scripted and produced piece of cinema rather than an on-stage performance.

Where the cinema release comes into its own is Universal’s dedication to close-ups of the leading characters. Its somehow now easier to feel the character’s emotions during heated exchanges and this adds to the overall feel of the production.

Eva Noblezada dazzles as Kim and is certainly on par with 1989 original, Lea Salonga, when it comes to realism. Her on stage presence makes her demand to be felt, with the heart wrenching rendition of “I’d Give My Life For You” proving why Broadway-bound Noblezada has already won various awards for her portrayal.

Alistair Brammer’s strong performance as Chris makes us feel for the American soldier as he toys with deciding which path to choose, one which is easy and one which is right. We bond with the character as he deals with the later consequences of his actions and understand his flood of emotions throughout the play’s key scenes.

However, the stand-out performance is that of Jon-Jon Briones. As a member of the 1985 cast at Royal Drury Lane, Briones was the only option for Mackintosh when deciding who to take over from Jonathan Pryce as the engineer. Briones performance oozes what makes The Engineer great from start to finish and is breath-taking to watch; especially his final number “The American Dream” which manages to highlight all of Brione's talents in one song.

The 25th Anniversary Finale, featuring the performing talents of original Kim Lea Salonga, Simon Bowman and Jonathan Price, alongside many of the 1989 cast, makes for a stunning conclusion and one which perfectly surmises how much Mackintosh and Miss Saigon have achieved in the last 27 years.

The only drawback is that some key scenes were left with a disappointing feel. “The Fall of Saigon” was brilliantly produced at the Prince Edward Theatre, but with so much going on you need to see the entire stage to fully understand the scale of the piece and where the scene is trying to take you; something that is only minimally captured on screen.

Although, this is still not enough to hold back this magnificent portrayal of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonbergs' piece. The colourful sets, breath-taking performances and dazzling cinematography make this one of the surprising movie sensations of 2016. If you’re a Saigon fan, it’s a must. If you have never seen Mackintosh’s masterpiece, it’s still a must.

Miss Saigon: The 25th Anniversary Performance is available to purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray now.

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