Here’s a dazzlingly executed piece of showbusiness panache, and all for a story that truly matters.
After the juggernaut onslaught of The Book of Mormon, another musical has just arrived from Broadway much more unobtrusively — but is even more unmissable. It is in an entirely different emotional register, too: where the Mormons have a literally missionary zeal, Once creeps under your skin to achieve a kind of ecstasy in its quiet, insistent yearning for life’s missed opportunities, but the lessons we can learn from them.
Miss Saigon is full of glimpses of, and glances towards, other shows from South Pacific to Pacific Overtures, too, as well as its operatic source. But it remains a striking, occasionally strident, example of musical theatre craftsmanship. I wish it hadn’t been burdened here by over-production, but there’s no question that audiences are getting their money’s worth, and that it will be a massive hit all over again.
Mamma Mia!, here I go again! And again and again — and still I can’t resist it. I reckon I’ve now seen it at least 14 times around the world from San Francisco to Stockholm, and last Monday, I was back at the original London production as it celebrated its 10th anniversary (coinciding neatly with the 35th anniversary of Abba’s Eurovision song contest win with ‘Waterloo’ that launched their international careers).