London, U.K. – The West End revival of “Miss Saigon” is scheduled to open on May 3, 2014 at the Prince Edward Theatre in London. The new Cameron Mackintosh production coincides with the musical’s 25th anniversary next year.
Set in 1975 during the final days of the American occupation of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), the musical tells the epic love story between Chris, an American G.I., and Kim, a young Vietnamese bargirl, and is loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly.” It features music by Claude-Michel Schönberg with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil, adapted from the original French lyrics by Boublil.
Mackintosh has announced that 17-year old Eva Noblezada, a Charlotte, North Carolina native, has been cast to play the lead role of Kim. Noblezada currently attends the NorthWest School of the Arts in Charlotte. The plan is for her to perform four shows a week when “Miss Saigon” opens, with understudies covering the rest of the performances so she can keep up with her studies.
The Adobo Chronicles learned from inside sources that a 21-year old transgender will train and rehearse as understudy for Noblezada. The sources declined to reveal the name or ethnicity of the understudy. They, however, said that the transgender actress looks and sounds like a young Lea Salonga who originated the role of Kim when it first opened in London.
It will be recalled that when “Miss Saigon” opened on Broadway, the show was met with protests from Asian Americans because it cast a Caucasian, Jonathan Pryce, in the role of the Engineer. This time, Mackintosh has cast a Filipino actor, Jon Jon Briones, to play the all-important role.
Entertainment critics have speculated that the casting of a non-Caucasian for the role of the Engineer and a transgender understudy for the role of Kim, is the production’s way of sending a message that the new “Miss Saigon” is quite sensitive to issues of racial and sexual diversity.
Upon learning of the news about the transgender understudy, a small group of LGBT activists held a peaceful demonstration in front of the Prince Edward Theatre yesterday, chanting “We’re here, we’re Queer, we’re celebrating with our peer!”