Friday, 22 November 2013

Miss Saigon revival cast, finally!

Anyone who has taken a glimpse at my Miss Saigon Week posts knows how excited I've been about the upcoming West End revival of that show. When Miss Saigon opens at Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014, it will be 25 years from its original opening, which starred a now-iconic cast – headed by Lea Salonga, to whom Kim was the first of many notable musical roles. Just like with the original production, the Kim hunt required a long time and some very distant locations – auditions were held in Manila as well as in New York. The whole process was conducted with such secrecy that absolutely nothing of an affirmative nature – just a couple of names thrown here and there – leaked through till the final decision was made. Today, however, I finally get to do what I've been aching to do for months: list all the main cast and try to predict how well they will do their jobs next year.

Alright, let's get the most talked-about, the most difficult, the most mystery-shrouded, and of course the most important part done first: the actress who will play Kim!

Eva Noblezada as Kim

The production team wanted an unknown talent to play Kim from the very beginning, and I'm glad they stuck with that decision. Kim's portrayal requires youthfulness and innocence in both looks and presence, and I don't think any big-name stars have that kind of a quality. Kim's actress also needed a strong, beautiful voice and Asian origins. Many interesting names were thrown around, especially those of Filipina singers – that country seems to produce fantastic female singers like Finland produces pine cones. Rachelle Ann Go was one of the most popular Kim candidates, but the part eventually went to Eva Noblezada, a 17-year-old American with Filipino origins (unsurprisingly). Based on the one performance that is available on Youtube, I'm happy to say she will probably nail her part. Just like Lea Salonga back then, she's young, sings extremely confidently for her age (and even if you don't consider her age she still sounds amazing) and seems able to express emotions through song. Coincidentally, her aunt was a Kim understudy in the original London production. See her for yourselves – the video embedding thing refuses to work again, so I'll give you a link.

Jon Jon Briones as the Engineer

I have to confess I had never even heard of this man before I read this article about the new cast. Turns out he's played the role before and he totally rocks it! I found a kind of trailer on another Miss Saigon production which starred him as the Engineer and Kerry Ellis as Ellen, to mention a few. Briones appears in the beginning wearing a purple jacket, and from 3:33 and 4:52 onwards wearing red. Can you guess which country he comes from? It begins with Ph... They barely pulled off (white actor) Jonathan Pryce with facial prosthetics in '89, but it would be impossible nowadays. I think there was a rumour going around at some point that Pryce would return as the Engineer in the revival, but I'm glad it didn't happen. He's much too old, and incurably Caucasian, let's face it.

(Just a sidenote, what on Earth happened to Kim's face in I'd Give My Life For You???)

Alistair Brammer as Chris

So my only wish concerning the Miss Saigon cast didn't come true... We won't see Gareth Gates as Chris yet. But I'm not as sad as I thought I would be, because Alistair Brammer is a WONDERFUL alternative. Every Les Mis fan out there knows him, and probably adores him. You've seen his face as Jean Prouvaire, un Ami de l'ABC, in both the 25th Anniversary Concert and the Tom Hooper film of Les Misérables. He has also played Marius. I can definitely see him as a romantic GI, and his voice will go very nicely with Why God Why? Oh no. Now that I started imagining those two elements combined, I can't wait to hear it, and goodness knows how long I will have to wait!

Hugh Maynard as John

Another unknown name for me. He was in X-Factor with a male group called Tenors of Rock. He has also played the part of John before, as you can see on the video. I've never regarded John as a very interesting character, but I think Maynard could make it so, judging by his performance here!

Tamsin Carroll as Ellen

I don't know this actress either, but she seems a little old to be playing 25-year-old Alistair Brammer's wife! Or does the hairdo and the mature voice just make her seem older than she really is? Carroll has played Nancy in Oliver! and various other musical roles. I couldn't find a video that would properly display her voice. So far, I don't think I'm entirely warming up to her as Ellen. (She's the blonde woman in the video below.)

Rachelle Ann Go as Gigi

So Rachelle Ann Go didn't land the lead role, but she did get a pretty good one! Gigi may not have a lot of stage time, but The Movie In My Mind is a great, great song. As I mentioned before, a lot of people rooted for Go to play Kim, and while I agree that she has a beautiful, powerful voice, I personally never detected the kind of "Kim presence" in her.

All in all, this seems like a (mostly) promising main cast for one of my favourite musicals! I will definitely be following all the Miss Saigon gossip in the future, and share my thoughts here if something interesting comes up. What do you think about the cast? Are you going to see this show in London?

Some minutes after I first published this post, the official Miss Saigon Youtube channel posted a video about the new cast, there's audition clips and other footage of all the performers listed here, and Sir Cameron's comments on them!


  1. I was really looking forward to seeing this musical anyway but after hearing Eva Noblezada I'm thrilled! Yes she's no Lea Salonga but I'm sure she'll still be amazing! And I'm really excited about Alistair Brammer as well. I'm underwhelmed about Tamsin Carroll though. I've looked her up and she's almost a decade older than Alistair Brammer! And she looks it! That seems really weird to me :S I'd have liked Katie Hall or Nancy Sullivan as Ellen but oh well. It will still be a fantastic experience I'm sure :D

  2. Heard from the grapevine Rachelle Ann Go is understudy Ellen!

    Now, an Asian Ellen...that's interesting