Miss Saigon Wows Record Audiences

Posted on May 28, 2018

2018 Miss Saigon

Theatre that is done well provides great entertainment; the best theatre transports you to another world. This year’s musical production took the audience on the most amazing journey to the heart of Vietnam and the heart of Kim and her world, a world that resonates with all that is still happening now: war, power, corruption and abuse, with the inevitable consequences of great loss and grief.

These mature themes can be challenging for a school production but the leads gave such astonishingly convincing performances that the words ‘school edition’ seemed a complete misnomer. The complimentary tissues were a nice touch and proved to be an essential item as the heart-rending tale unfolded.

Jackie Liu (Snell House) was a sensation as the mother who loves fully and sacrifices all for her son; Diego Santos (Rutherford) convinced as a man torn between two worlds and two loves; Hamish Regan (Rutherford) provided a fine balance of comic relief and creepiness; Avaneesh Belwalkar (Rutherford) showed how easy it is to make mistakes even while trying to be a good friend; Jonathan Shaw (Batten) found his acting straps with gusto as the arrogant general; and Hayatt Al Joborry (Mansfield) showed that a wife can be both devastated and compassionate.

The clever staging, design, costumes and use of projected images told the story without falling into the trap of over-embellishment. The helicopter scene was truly a suspension of disbelief moment. Together with the brilliant stylized dancing, the overall effect carried the audience into different cultures and different time periods seamlessly.

Backstage work was unobtrusive, and congratulations must go to all the crew teams that supported those on stage. The orchestra. The singing. Pinch me, because surely this was a dream, that a school production could carry off the music so professionally and with such depth of emotion. Standing ovations thoroughly deserved.

Lesley Shepherd.