British celebs watch Miss Saigon's return to West End

By Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at May 23 2014 03:52 PM | Updated as of May 24 2014 01:08 AM

LONDON - Miss Saigon made an exciting return to the West End after a 15-year absence. Originally staged in the 80's, the musical remains a huge spectacle.

British celebrities walked on the red carpet. Some are more emotional than others.

"I was in it in the last year that it ran. So that was 14 years ago. It was my first job out of college, so, yeah, it means a lot to me. It's a very big deal. I mean, so many Filipinos have so much to owe to this show because it showcased the talent that Filipinos have, and brought it to an international scale," said British-Filipina television personality, Myleen Klass.

British actor Jonathan Pryce, who established the blueprint for the role of Engineer, came to support a colleague that he worked with in the original production.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Jon Jon playing my part - the usurper. Well, I worked with him for a year in London when he was in the ensemble and I was playing the Engineer. I did it for two years and never tired of doing it. It's a great show and I'm really looking forward to seeing this. I'm sorry Lea [Salonga] isn't here," Pryce said.

Families of the cast came in full force.

Angie Noblezada, mother of Eva Noblezada who plays the lead role "Kim", said, "I feel like she has a God-given gift to be here and I'm thrilled."

Noblezada's father, John, added, "Thank you guys for the love on Twitter, Instagram, everywhere, social media. It has been great! It's just so neat to see people proud of another young Filipina just stepping and just showing her talent. So thank you for your love and support."

Noblezada's aunt, Annette Calud, also a former cast, said she's looking forward to the whole production.

"The cast is so talented, and looking at the changes that they've made from when I did it 20 something years ago, I'm just thrilled to be here," Calud said.

The much-awaited musical hit Miss Saigon is back in London- West End, and once again, it is showcasing Filipino talents.

Noblezada is the new 'Kim', a role played by Lea Salonga in the original production that premiered 25 years ago.

Alternating with her is Tanya Manalang.

Singer Rachelle Ann Go is playing bar girl "Gigi" and veteran stage actor Jon Jon Briones is the "Engineer".

Theater pundits described the show as a 'spectacular revival that hit the right notes.'

In the exclusive after- show party at Somerset House, the lead stars were presented to media.

"It's changed. There are some real changes but the story and its heart is exactly the same, and it's great to be part of a new version of it," said Alistair Brammer who plays "Chris".

"I feel like I'm walking on clouds right now. It definitely feels like a lot of relief. We've worked so hard for tonight and I feel very grateful. That's my number one right now. Very, very grateful," said Noblezada.

Briones for his part said, "It's the most fun character to play because he's not really a bad guy. You would think he's a bad guy but there's more to it and a want. Just like everyone else, if you want something so bad it becomes a story that you cannot help but watch, and that's what it is."

The Filipino cast is overwhelmed by the support of fellow Pinoys.

"We think that it's our show because a lot of Filipinos have been in this show. So it becomes our show, our story, and the support from Filipino community, from our kababayans has just been enormous and I'm just happy for that," Briones said.

When asked what he thinks of the show, Pryce said, "There's still lots of elements of the original production but I think it has become much darker, a little more violent, certainly more passionate. I think the 'Kim' is just phenomenal and Jon Jon Briones. I just felt very proud of him. I felt quite paternal watching him. I thought he was extraordinary. He has made it absolutely his own. He's stolen a couple of bits of my business but on the whole he does his own thing."

But no one was prouder than the theater impresario himself who bowed to pressures from fans to bring back "Miss Saigon" to West End.

"Very proud of all the wonderful Filipino performers tonight. Brilliant. Miss Saigon would never survive without the Philippines. I am very grateful," said Sir Cameron Mackintosh, producer of Miss Saigon.

Mackintosh revealed the updated production has already recouped the 4.5 million pounds cost with advance ticket sales.