From costume changes to the cast, Frankly My Dear UK take a look at 20 epic facts about award-winning musical MISS SAIGON
Cameron Mackintosh’s epic production of MISS SAIGON makes a welcome return to Manchester this week for an eight-week-long run at the Palace Theatre.
Set during the Vietnam War, MISS SAIGON tells the story of 17 year-old Kim who is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. Kim meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For three years Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son.
Since its London premiere in 1989, MISS SAIGON has become one of the most successful musicals in history. When the original Broadway production opened in April 1991, it was the largest advance sale in Broadway history ($37 million) and went on to play for nearly ten years, with 4,063 performances seen by more than 5.9 million people.
With a cast of 38 actors, an orchestra of 15 and a technical team of 32, MISS SAIGON is also one of the largest touring productions of its kind. It takes a whopping 16 45-foot trailers to move the production from one venue to the next, with over100 people working around the clock to make transferring the show possible.
To mark its run at Manchester’s Palace Theatre, Frankly My Dear UK take a look at 20 epic facts about Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical MISS SAIGON.
20 Facts about MISS SAIGON
- The MISS SAIGON touring company includes 38 adult cast members, from 10 nationalities including British, Filipino, Thai, Chinese, Korean and Japanese, Singaporian, Swedish, Dutch and Malaysian.
- It takes around 22 hours to take the show out of a venue and 3 days to put it in the next venue, working 24 hours a day.
- 100 production and local crew are involved in putting the show into a venue.
- The wardrobe team do 104 loads of washing per week.
- There are over 200 pairs of shoes in the show.
- The bikinis worn by the girls in the American Dream number have a kilo of beads on each one.
- There are 16 costume changes for each member of the female ensemble throughout the show.
- The G.I. boy’s flak jackets and helmets are all original and have been used in action.
- There are a total of 60 wigs in the show.
- 16 different smoke machines and 12 fans create the atmosphere in the show, 6 of which come through tiny holes in the show floor to allow haze to appear in accurate places.
- There are 5 follow-spots on the show, 3 right at the back of the auditorium and 2 that are just behind the proscenium which the operators have to be in a harnesses to climb up to. The operators are incredibly busy in the show with over 580 different cues to follow the cast around. Some of these cues are so subtle that it’s hard to even know how they’re being lit, not an easy thing to achieve!
- This tour has more lighting elements than the Broadway and London versions of the show.
- There are 600 props used in the show. Each prop has to be accounted for before each performance. This is carried out by the Assistant Stage Managers using a check sheet.
- There are 15 members of the orchestra – Instruments include 8 Asian flutes, piccolo and Flute. There are 77 different percussion instruments in total. Unusual instruments include skull drums, ankle bells, singing bowls, Thai chap cymbals and kabuki blocks.
- There are 42 radio microphones worn by the cast. These are hidden in hair, wigs and even hats.
- There are 44 AA batteries used per show. These are all rechargeable batteries and there are 3 sets of batteries that are constantly being cycled. If we didn’t use rechargeable batteries, by the time the show arrived in Manchester, over 12,000 batteries will have been used.
- There are specific speakers overhead, onstage and on the helicopter itself to provide the audio effect of the helicopter flight.
- By the end of the tour, the helicopter will have travelled an Olympic running track over 50 times, that’s over 20,000 metres!
- MISS SAIGON has been performed in 32 countries, in 369 cities, in 15 different languages.
- The musical has won over 70 awards including 2 Olivier Awards, 3 Tony Awards, and 4 Drama Desk Awards and has been seen by over 36 million people worldwide.
MISS SAIGON opens at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on 21 March and runs until 12 May 2018.
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.