Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boubil’s classic Miss Saigon is currently enjoying a revival at the Prince Edward Theatre in the West End. Norfolk Youth Music Theatre have taken on the greatest challenge of this year’s Fringe and make a fine job of it.

If you can’t get to the West End then this is a suitable alternative.

Miss Saigon is based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly and similarly tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover. The setting of the plot is relocated to 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War and Madame Butterfly's story of marriage between an American lieutenant and Japanese girl is replaced by a romance between an American GI and a Vietnamese bar girl.

The school version of the show is dramatically shortened but still retains many of the biggest numbers of the original production. Included is the highlight of the score, Bui-Doi, a soaring aria of a song documenting the tale of those children fathered by American GIs who were left behind with the fathers returned home. Lewis Aves playing the role of John gives the number his best performance but interestingly he finishes on a rather low note as oppose to the large belt finish we have come to expect from the show.

The show’s leads, Calum Black in the role of Chris and Megan Artherton as Kim truly shine. Even though Artherton doesn’t quite have the right look for the character, she brings much charm, heart and vocal talent and is endlessly watchable. The same can be said for Jess Stewart as Ellen, Chris’s American wife, who has to face up to the reality that her husband is already a father. Stewart delivers her role well and leaves you totally believing in her dilemma.

Backed by a sizeable orchestra, a full ensemble and perfectly delivered costumes this is a production that has much to offer especially if you look beyond the casting. Norfolk YMT are becoming a staple of the fringe. The quality never wavers and this production is a worthy addition.

So, if you can’t get to the West End then this is a suitable alternative. Go and be captured by the music, the story and the passion that is Miss Saigon.

Reviews by Brett Herriot

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The Blurb

Set against the turmoil of the Vietnamese War, an American soldier and a Vietnamese girl fall in love, only to be separated during the fall of Saigon. Their struggle to find each other over the ensuing years tears through one’s emotions to a climatic and passionate finale. This specially adapted version of Miss Saigon retells the romantic story of Puccini's Madame Butterfly in the modern world to create one of the most stunning theatrical spectacles of all time. Performed by the highly talented cast of the multi award-winning Norfolk YMT.