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Review: Miss Saigon

Prince Edward Theatre, London W1

    It's been 15 years since Miss Saigon was last on the London stage. In the months leading up to last week's opening night, I overhead several conversations in which lovers of Nicholas Hytner's original production declared their barely contained excitement. They presumably contributed to the record-breaking advance bookings of £4.4 million. And, although I did see the original 1989 production, I never understood the fuss. In the interests of full disclosure, I came back to it in less than ideal circumstances - with a pulsing migraine that eventually truncated my evening by out-decibelling even Claude-Michel Schönberg's anthemic, if often tender score.
    There is always a shift-in-your seat vulgarity to a show that makes a spectacle out of a historical event in which many suffered and died. Here it is the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon. And the music is not going to make you rush out to get the cast recording, even with the talented find of Eva Noblezada in the title role. While Alain Boublil and Richard Maltby Jnr's lyrics are nowhere near as classy as Herbert Kretzmer's in Les Miserables, Boublil & Schönberg's even bigger hit. But the storytelling is gripping stuff.

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