Review: Miss Saigon: 25th Anniversary Performance (in cinemas)
Find out what our deputy editor thought of Boublil and Schönberg's hit musical on screen
Caveat: I'm not a fan of theatre on screen. I've always felt that, in order to truly feel the energy and atmosphere that's unique to theatre - that smell, those lights, the hubbub of audience members taking their seats in anticipation - a stage production should only be witnessed live and in the moment. That being said, the 25th Anniversary Performance of Miss Saigon is one of the most moving things I've watched on a big screen.
At first I was worried; the film opens with footage of explosions and a photograph of a Vietnamese child that the show's composer, Claude-Michel Schönberg, claims was 'where it all began'. My teeth grated as I considered the prospect of sitting through a two hour documentary with meer clips of the actual stage show. Fortunately that wasn't the case and with the throb of helicopter blades whirring through the screening room, the show began.
And what a show it is. Universal's Ultra-high-definition cameras bring everything into razor sharp focus in a way that wasn't possible on the Prince Edward stage. Totie Driver and Matt Kinley's award-winning set design looks infinitely more stunning, Bob Avian's choreography is beautifully framed and extreme close-ups accentuate moments that most people revisiting the show would have missed from the back of the stalls.
The whole thing feels... cinematic. And for a piece that was shot largely on one night in front of a live audience, that's no mean feat. But the crowning glory of this broadcast - and the reason I'd urge everyone to get down to their local cinema and book a ticket - is in the performances of its leading cast.
Ultimately these are the same acclaimed performances that this ebullient and brilliantly diverse cast were giving eight times a week, the difference being that they're now twenty feet high. And this magnification can only lead to a heightened appreciation of Jon Jon Briones' dastardly hilarious Engineer, the dulcet tones of Hugh Maynard's John, the heartbreaking journey of Eva Noblezada's Kim. Noblezada and Rachelle Ann Go's gut-wrenching performance of "The Movie in My Mind" is worth the cost of the ticket alone.
To top it all off, original cast members including Jonathan Pryce and Lea Salonga join Cameron Mackintosh and Co. on stage for a special finale.
If you saw the production at the Prince Edward, go see this broadcast. If you didn't see the production at the Prince Edward, go see this broadcast. If you're not a fan of theatre on screen, go see this broadcast - you might just be converted, like me.
Miss Saigon 25 Anniversary Performance is released on Monday 24 October
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