'Miss Saigon' returns to West End in May

By Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Apr 10 2014 10:58 AM | Updated as of Apr 10 2014 07:06 PM

LONDON - Theater impresario Cameron Mackintosh is bringing back the musical hit "Miss Saigon" to West End this May.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to have yet another go at Miss Saigon, probably the most spectacular production of my entire career," he said.

The Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's musical boasts of an international cast, including Filipinos for the lead roles.

Jonjon Briones will play the engineer. Rachelle Ann Go is Gigi, and Fil-Am Eva Noblezada will play Kim, the role originally played by Lea Salonga, 25 years ago.

Miss Saigon enjoyed record-breaking runs in London. The musical developed a solid fan base.

Malcolm Conlan watched the show 52 times.

"Every single time it makes me cry. Every single time without fail. Listening to the soundtrack, watching the show. It's just that whole story when Tam runs onto the stage and is hugged by Kim, when Kim gets shot," said Conlan.

Because of the show's Pinoy cast, Conlan developed a passion to promote the Philippines and its culture.

"I found it really emotional. I was crying halfway through it. But also, to be honest, I never really knew about the Philippines. I didn't even know where the Philippines was to be completely honest. But through watching the show I discovered that some of the cast were Filipina, only because at the time I was reading through the brochures and I had a bit of a fascination of going to the Philippines," he said.

Stephanie Lao. File Photo.

Stephanie Lao was four years old when she played Tam, the son of Kim.

She vividly recalled her stint in Miss Saigon.

"At the side of the stage you have a curtain that the child stays behind. Behind that area, my mum or my dad was with me as a chaperone, because by law you have to have a chaperone. I only come out when she calls me and then I have to run back," said Lao.

Lao is now a teacher. To this day, she treasures the experience of being part of the West End hit musical about a tragic love story between an American GI and a Vietnamese woman.

"From that experience, up until high school, even through university, I was doing a lot of performances, dance shows, things like that, in front of large audiences," she said.

The revival of Miss Saigon is expected to showcase the musical talent of Filipinos, as in the past, with the original production.