I love musicals… there I’ve said it! I’m one of the very few Newcastle based Dads that hates football and love musicals… and Disney. It’s something that I was brought up into. Every other year my parents would take me down to London to see a show. The first one I remember being Phantom of the Opera. There is something magical about the way you can tell a story, through song. Visually experience different scenes and locations, with out a director shouting “CUT!”. All of this as it continues live without any editing.
One one of our visits to London we went to see Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. I’m believe it was with in the first year of it opening. Complete with the original cast, including Lea Salonga as Kim, Jonathan Pryce as the Engineer and Simon Bowman as Chris. Peter Polycarpou was also in the line up as John, which to me was the celebrity as he was in “Birds of a Feather”, as Chris Theodopolopodous.
I remember the very steep slope on the stage and how the scenery built up out of nothing. Bamboo screens framed the stage. The orchestra pit was covered with a cage (possibly due to the steep stage and possibility of actors over running the edge). As a 13 year old boy, watching bikini clad girls in a bar / brothel in the first scene, with my parents felt awkward. I also remember tears welling up in my eyes. The combination of music, story and setting always affects me in this way. So possibly all of these memories have put it into my top 5 musicals list.
So, when I saw that there was to be a screening of the show at our local cinema on the 16th of October, I nearly booked up. The only reason I didn’t was that it was £17 per ticket. And sadly this is the reason we as a family don’t go to the theatre more often. Generally speaking to get the good seats, your looking at £45 – £60 per ticket. When you multiply that by 4, it isn’t a cheap night out.
I had started to come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t get to see the relaunched London show. But then…
Miss Saigon 25th Anniversary Performance on DVD
One of my friends, posted a photo of a birthday gift on Facebook. The DVD of the Miss Saigon 25th Anniversary Performance. So, I quickly searched iTunes and it was available to buy as a download for £9.99. I didn’t need to think twice before I downloaded it.
Catherine was getting ready to head out, so I settled down to watch it with Imogen. Although it is rated as 15, I thought it wasn’t that bad.
However, that first scene of bikini clad girls in the Bar / Brothel, became that awkward moment. Imogen thought is was amusing that there was so much swearing. I hoped that she didn’t see the GI and bar girl “dry humping” in the background!
After realising that maybe there were topics in here that were to adult for my daughter I tried to explain a little of the backstory and how the girls in the bar were being paid to dance in there bikinis. Although in reality the girls really wanted to become friends with the soldiers and move to America and escape the Vietnam war that was happening around them. I think I did well without mentioning sex.
After the initial “scene setting”, there is a lovely story of love and conflict. The music was as good as I remembered it and the casting was perfect. My initial concern was that it would never be as good as the original production. The scenery, casting and creation was as good as the first time, as I wasn’t disappointed.
Picking up on the Details
The good thing about the way this was film, meant that you could pick up on parts that were overlooked while it was live on stage. For example, there was a few scenes were the GI soldiers were snorting cocaine. One particular soldier snorts it from the bar before heading down to grope Kim in the Bar, only to be pushed off by Chris. Without the editing together, I would have only seen a scuffle in the bar.
So far I’ve watched it through once and I’m looking forward to watching it again to see what else I’ve missed. Definitely worth buying if you’ve seen any of the productions in the West End or Touring the UK.