Miss Saigon, Triumphant Premiere in Vienna

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Vienna, 23 January 2022 – Raimund Theatre, Wallgasse 18-20, 1060 Vienna, Austria

  • Sarah Jozelle Magistrado ROJAS.

A Review from My Point of View

Judging by the almost six minutes standing ovation, the premiere of the musical Miss Saigon was definitely a resounding success. In theatres in Vienna, if the audience loves you, they show it with the deafening applause, ear splitting whistles and yells. My eardrums were definitely assaulted.

Christian Struppeck, Artistic Director of Musicals, Vereinigte Bühnen Wien (VBW), or United Stages Vienna, could not have chosen a better venue, the newly renovated Raimund Theatre, to bring this famous musical by Alain Boublil & Claude-Michel Schönberg  to Austria. The original producer of Miss Saigon, Cameron Mackintosh, came to Vienna for the premiere to personally extend his best wishes to the cast, orchestra and audience.

Among the 49 casts of Miss Saigon, two characters stood out. Kim, the young Vietnamese girl portrayed by Vanessa Heinz. The way her character developed from the meek and gentle girl in the opening scene, to the strong, powerful woman who made the ultimate sacrifice at the end, was so empowering! Specially now, when Asian hate is prevalent in some parts of the world, it sent a clear message about the strength and resilience of an Asian woman. Vanessa Heinz was so convincing in her portrayal of Kim a woman so passionately in love, with that passion so palpable – one could feel it across the stage. Until the last act, that longing, that hope was evident. And the portrayal of Kim, the mother who sacrificed all for her child was so heartbreakingly real, surely something the mothers in the audience could relate with.

Picture: Marion Garcia

The Engineer, portrayed by Christian Rey Marbella, a Filipino actor, singer and dancer with an extensive musical theatre experience in Asia, United Kingdom and the United States, undoubtedly, carried the show. The character’s charisma and confidence were truly captivating. He represented the survivors of this world, ready to adapt to any situation to survive. The Engineer’s actions were morally questionable yet a fitting representation of the length many people go through just to have a decent life.

It is great that although Miss Saigon is a musical meant to entertain, it has depth as it touches on the issue of “Bui doi” – “the dust of life”, the Amerasian children left behind after the Vietnam War. Were they born out of love or the circumstances that the soldiers and the prostitutes found themselves in? A scene that I still, to this moment, find myself thinking about, is the one where Chris is forced to choose between his past and present love. It made me question his love for Kim – was it real or was it a way to keep sane in the midst of the horrors of war. Although I can only imagine how hard this was for everyone, it was hardest on the children left behind, Bui doi.

Here are some impressions from the audience at the Premiere:

SUPER MEGA BLAST!! The whole cast is sensational, stage props very original and the Asian Flair made me so emotional!! Kudos to our 2 „adopted“ sons: @Winchester Lopez ( dance captain!) & @Erick Arenas (acrobat/ensemble) ! We are sooo proud of you both! Liberty De Las Alas

The Miss Saigon premiere in Vienna was a great success. The actors’ positive energy literally jumped over to the audience. You could feel how happy everyone is that they can finally put on this wonderful show. In my opinion, the new German translation was much better than the old version, cheekier and more modern. I often couldn’t hold back my tears. The story of Miss Saigon just goes straight into the heart. Marion Garcia

I watched it for the first time without so much knowledge of Miss Saigon and as soon as the performance begun, I was completely in awe! Their performances were mind blowing! The most beautiful and moving story indeed! Celine Medenilla

Watching the Miss Saigon premiere at the Raimund Theatre transported me to the Broadway Theatre in New York in the early 90s where I watched it with Lea Salonga in the lead role. Then and now, whether in English or in German, Miss Saigon is truly riveting! Kudos to all the Filipinos in the cast, especially the main character, Christian Rey Marbella, the Engineer, whose compelling performance kept me on the edge of my seat, gripping the armrest, for the duration of the show. The original producer, the most successful musical producer in the world, Cameron Mackintosh’s wish for the casts came true: “that the opening night of Miss Saigon in Vienna will be a triumph that it deserves to be”. And indeed, it was, Miss Saigon was TRIUMPHANT. Marizel Rojas

The brilliant casts of Miss Saigon, describing how they felt at the Premiere, “Fast Talk” style:

Christian Rey Marbella (Engineer): “HAPPY, HUMBLED and GRATEFUL”

Winchester R. Lopez (Swing/Dance Captain): “Relieved, Proud, Excited”

Vincent Bueno (Ensemble / Cover Thuy): “I felt very humbled, blessed and challenged to be able to fully focus on my part to tell the story of Miss Saigon”

Aynrand Ferrer (Ensemble/Kim – Alternate): “I felt nostalgic.”

Judicel Eslao (Ensemble) : “Emotional, speechless and grateful”

Nils Axelsson (Swing): “Relieved, Pleased and Proud” 

Riko Nakazono (Ensemble): “DREAM COME TRUE”

Alexandra-Yoana Alexandrova (Ensemble/Cover Ellen): I felt extremely blessed, overwhelmed, happy, thankful and released! This huge applause with 6 minutes standing ovations blew me away!

For three decades, this extraordinary masterpiece has touched people all over the world. At its premiere in Vienna, it has proven once again: it reigns supreme with its brilliant cast, beautiful music, spectacular technical effects.

Even in the midst of this raging CoViD-19 pandemic, as long as you comply with the health and safety protocols, if you love musicals, Raimund Theatre is the place to be, Miss Saigon is the play to see!!!

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About the Author:

Sarah Jozelle Magistrado ROJAS.
Currently taking up Communications and Social Sciences at Mater Salvatoris in Vienna, Austria, Sarah Jozelle Magistrado ROJAS is a product of a Bicolana-Zamboangeño union, born in Austria, typical Austro Pinay actively involved in the Filipino Community.
 
At the age of 19, she is currently the President of the Young European Network of Filipino Diaspora Austria (YENFiD-Austria). She is also the Assistant Secretary of Bikol Society Austria (BSA), a member of the Philippine-Austrian Cultural and Educational Society (PACES), a member of the Vienna International Centre Club Filipino (VIC CF), a member the United Nations Women’s Guild (UNWG) and a member of Green Heroes Austria. Recently, she discovered her interest in prose and passion for poetry.
E: sarahj.rojas@yahoo.com IG: bratsybits  YT: Heart2Heart   – YouTube
FB: Sarah Jozelle Rojas  W: This is Sarah | Simply Sarah (wixsite.com)

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