Bristol Theatre News

Miss Saigon at The Bristol Hippodrome Facts and Stats

Miss Saigon Bristol Hippodrome: There’s a behemoth of a musical opening in Bristol next week. Miss Saigon is one of the largest musicals on tour and it’s opening at The Bristol Hippodrome on Wednesday 16 May.

So far, it’s lugged 16 large 45-foot trailers around the UK and Ireland with an impressive location transfer rate of just three days.

A team of over 100 people locally and on tour work around the clock to do a get-out on a Saturday night, before opening up in a new venue in a different city on the following Wednesday.

A get-out in theatre is literally what it says, the process of packing up a show and putting the theatre back to its bare boards in preparation for the next show due to move in.

Set during the last days of the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon, bar worker Kim meets an American GI Chris. The pair fall in love but are torn apart by military action.

Chris goes on to re-marry, having no idea he fathered a son and Kim goes on a three-year journey to find her way back to him.

Miss Saigon has its basis and inspiration in Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s feelings when he saw a photograph of a Vietnamese woman at an airport forced to send her child to America to be with her ex-GI father. This is a fictitious story but events were real. People were torn apart, children were sent away and families did split, never to see each other again.

This new production arrives in Bristol nearly 30 years after it originally opened in London’s Theatre Royal on Drury Lane.

With updated theatre design, audiences are likely to get a more daring production, especially with history much further behind us and advances in lighting technology and video projection.

There are 1437 lighting and video cues in the show, with five of them triggered by sound effects.  Video features the latest laser technology projectors on the front of the Grand Circle.

There are five follow-spot operators on this show. You only notice follow spots when they go wrong, usually with comedic effect. If you see a white light wobbling around stage looking for the lead singer, there’s a follow spot operator sweating profusely.

That will probably go into the Stage Manager’s report, which is completed after every single performance with details about anything that went wrong during the show.

There will be three follow spot operators in the auditorium, something you don’t see much of these days, with two seated in harnesses high up behind the stage’s proscenium arch.

Over seeing the perfection of each performance is a resident director, who will oversee a cast of 38, orchestra of 15 and tech team of 32 who will create the show 8 times a week.

Look out for the G.I boy’s flak jackets and helmets, as part of the authenticity, each item is original and has been used in military action.

The Helicopter is undoubtedly one of the most famous aspects of the show. It’s an independently controlled piece of set which weight over 3 tons and is the same height as 1.5 London double decker buses. Its blade span in 2.6 metres and will spin nearly 4000 times during a week of shows.

With Cameron Mackintosh behind the show, this is going to be high quality touring theatre at its slickest and most professional.

The show will be at The Bristol Hippodrome from Wednesday 16 May until Saturday 23 June 2018.

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