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'Miss Saigon' cast embrace full circle moments in Philippine return |

Arts and Culture

'Miss Saigon' cast embrace full circle moments in Philippine return

Kristofer Purnell -
'Miss Saigon' cast embrace full circle moments in Philippine return
The main cast of the 'Miss Saigon' 2024 Philippine run with the musical's co-creator Claude-Michel Schönberg during the press conference held in The Theatre at Solaire in Parañaque City on March 21, 2024. / Kristofer Purnell

MANILA, Philippines — Excited is an understatement for what the "Miss Saigon" cast feels in bringing the musical back to Philippine shores.

Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil's award-winning musical based on Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" was last staged in the Philippines 24 years ago and starred Lea Salonga as she originated her West End and Broadway role of Kim.

This new production of "Miss Saigon" by Cameron Mackintosh was first performed in London, and after a decade it finally makes its way to a country with such close ties to the musical.

A number of Filipinos have participated in different versions of the musical like Lea, Joanna Ampil, Eva Noblezada, Rachelle Ann Go, Jon Jon Briones, Ma-Anne Dionisio, Isay Alvarez, Cocoy Laurel, Pinky Amador, Jon Jon Briones, Jenine Desiderio, Robert Seña and Monique Wilson.

The 2024 Philippine run of "Miss Saigon" features a main cast with Filipino heritage: Fil-Aussies Abigail Adriano and Seann Miley Moore as Kim and the Engineer, Filipino-Kiwi Laurence Mossman as Thuy, and homegrown actress Kiara Dario as Gigi.

Even Nigel Huckle, who plays Chris, has Filipino ties as he had a yaya named Nenny who looked after him growing up in Singapore.

Related: 'Miss Saigon' co-creator praises musical's Philippine connections

The five actors were present at a press conference held outside the Theatre at Solaire, where "Miss Saigon" will be staged, to share how being part of the show feels like a full circle moment.

This is actually not Nigel's first time in the Philippine as he was part of the "Les Miserables" production that performed here in 2014.

That year, Nigel and his family flew Nenny from Iloilo to see him perform, and this time around, he will be doing the same for "Miss Saigon."

Around that time, Nigel was auditioning to be part of "Miss Saigon" on Broadway, and while that didn't fall through he was glad to be given this new opportunity.

Kiara similarly attempted to audition for "Miss Saigon" abroad during a time she considered pursuing Medicine, and she called the five seconds she was allowed to sing as the happiest of her life and vowed to stick with musical theater.

"It's really an honor to be part of the legacy of this show here where partially it all began," Nigel said while Abigail added, "It's a dream come true, period."

Seann considers their full circle moment a homecoming, holding back tears as he shares being able to see his Makati-born mother back in her homeland.

"In Australia, I fight for diversity and queerness because I'm always the difference," Seann ended. "But to just walk on the street with my mom and looking out here, I see me. To do that onstage and perform see myself in the audience, it's gonna be so new and I will not know until I do it."

Laurence quoted something Lea said in a previous interview that the new "Miss Saigon" cast aren't prepared for a Filipino audience, something he agrees with given their enthusiasm, heart, and appreciation for the performing arts.

"We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, and we hope to inspire those who will come after us," Laurence continued. "We're not ready for the Philippines, this show was made for a Filipino audience, and I can't wait for the togetherness [of each performance]."

"Nakakataba talaga ng puso... it fills my heart to be here," Kiara concluded.

The 2024 Philippine run of "Miss Saigon" will be staged in Theatre at Solaire from March 23 to May 12.

RELATED: 'Big Slaysian energy': Abigail Adriano, Seann Miley Moore on their 'Miss Saigon' roles

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