Entertainment & Arts

Miss Saigon stars reunite for 25th anniversary

Jonathan Pryce as 'The Engineer' Image copyright Richard Davenport
Image caption Pryce won an Olivier and a Tony for his performance as 'The Engineer'

Jonathan Pryce and other original cast members of Miss Saigon have joined its new cast on stage at a gala performance marking the musical's 25th anniversary.

"Matron said I'd enjoy it!" joked Pryce, now 67, after performing one of the songs he first sang in 1989 in the inaugural Cameron Mackintosh staging.

Lea Salonga and Simon Bowman, the first to play Kim and Chris, also sang during a special post-show encore.

Afterwards, Salonga said the audience response had been "deafening".

"We expected a big hand but nothing like this," said the Manila-born actress, now 43. "I was trying to keep it all together."

Written by Les Miserables duo Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, the original production of Miss Saigon opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in September 1989 and ran for 10 years.

A reworked production of the show, which tells of an American GI and a Vietnamese girl who begin an ill-fated romance amid the fall of Saigon in April 1975, returned to the West End earlier this year.

Image copyright Matthew Murphy
Image caption Filipino actor Jon Jon Briones plays 'The Engineer' in the current West End production

"We never thought we'd get the chance to do it all over again," Sir Cameron Mackintosh told a sell-out audience that included actor and broadcaster Michael Ball and Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood.

West End star Ruthie Henshall and dancer turned choreographer Louie Spence were among other Miss Saigon 'alumni' to attend Monday's gala at London's Prince Edward theatre.

The original show provoked a storm of controversy for casting Welshman Pryce as 'The Engineer', the sleazy half-Vietnamese pimp who helps bring Kim and Chris together.

'Argument worth having'

When the musical transferred to New York in 1991, Pryce was initially refused permission to recreate his performance by the US branch of actors' union Equity.

Speaking after Monday's performance, Pryce said the dispute over his casting had been "an argument that was worth having" and that "a lot of very positive things happened" as a result.

"In America especially, a lot of people are now seen for things they wouldn't have normally been seen for," he told the BBC News website.

Pryce and Salonga went on to win Tonys for performances that had already earned them Olivier awards two years earlier.

Image copyright Richard Davenport
Image caption Monday's event saw Pryce perform with Briones and other members of the Miss Saigon cast

Pryce, who will be seen next year in HBO fantasy Game of Thrones, said it had been "a great experience" to celebrate the show 25 years on from its premiere.

"I didn't exactly strut my stuff, but I did my best," he continued. "We had this idea of The Engineer coming on with a Zimmer frame."

Miss Saigon continues at the Prince Edward theatre, while BBC Radio 2 will broadcast a complete recording of Monday's gala performance on 3 October.

A film version may also be forthcoming, according to Sir Cameron.

"I've always thought this could make the best film of all the musicals," he told reporters.

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