Neil White is the company manager of Miss Saigon which comes to Norwich Theatre Royal on August 15-September 15. It promises to be an epic production packed with emotion and has a special significance for Neil.
It is no secret that Miss Saigon is my favourite show. I saw the first matinee preview in London of the first production in 1989 back when it first opened. Since then I have seen it so many times. It is such an incredible show and I was just thrilled to be asked to company manage it.
The production is massive. We have got an adult cast of 38, a touring company of nearly 100 and 10 different nationalities in the cast. It is such a diverse mix of people.
There are also the challenges of dealing with the difficult subjects within it. Everyone has had such a massive understanding of what the show is. For the first couple of days of rehearsals, we showed the cast films about Vietnam and went through press cuttings and photos. Everyone had to get deeply into their character. You have a massive responsibility to tell everyone’s story in the most accurate way.
The set is just incredible. Totie Driver and Neil Kinley, our production designers, put so much detail into it. The Dreamland bar has a beautiful Japanese tree growing in the middle of it. It is taken from a Japanese photo of a bombed out street where the tree is still there. It is there as a symbol of hope in the middle of all this devastation. Even the mirror in Kim’s dressing room has I Am Beautiful written on it in Thai because Totie’s mother told her to look in the mirror every morning and say that.
The whole set is covered in press quotes, and all our flak jackets and helmets have been worn in action. A lot of the hats are imported from Vietnam and Thailand as well. There is that massive authenticity about it all.
We don’t see Norwich as another tour venue. We see it as a season. The audience will be seeing the Broadway version of the show. A lot of care goes into it so that when Miss Saigon goes into Norwich, it will be the best possible version of the show.
Norwich itself is very special to me. I love working in an independent venue like the Theatre Royal as so much thought goes into the building. It is also really important as a centre of the arts. I spend a lot of time in Norfolk and I can’t wait to be back there. I have also never done a show where people are so moved by it. Even the cast were in tears after the first preview. We are all so proud of Miss Saigon and we can’t wait to show it off in Norwich.
Miss Saigon arrives here on 15 August 2018. Buy tickets at Norwich Theatre Royal.