Boublil and Schönberg’s Miss Saigon is a well-known musical, but it’s Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production that’s getting us all talking. It’s currently touring UK and Ireland, coming to Bradford Alhambra from 19th September – 20th October.
In the run-up to the show, let’s take a look at some of the super staggering facts showing us what’s really involved in putting the show together…
Touring company facts:
- 38 adult cast members, from 10 nationalities including British, Filipino, Thai, Chinese, Korean and Japanese, Singaporian, Swedish, Dutch and Malaysian.
- The backstage team includes 1 Company Manager, 1 Assistant Company Manager, 5 Stage Management, 1 Retail Manager, 6 Stage Crew, 4 Flymen, 5 Follow-Spot Operators, 3 Touring Carpenters, 3 Automation Operators, 4 Sound Operators, 3 Touring Electricians, 9 Dressers, 4 Wigs Personnel, and 5 Wardrobe Personnel.
- 2 touring chaperones (for the children playing ‘Tam’) and a touring physiotherapist.
- 15 members of the orchestra, plus a Musical Director.
- The show tours with a Resident Director to make sure the show’s artistic standards are tip-top wherever they go.
- The team does 104 loads of washing per week.
- 4 washing machines, 4 tumble driers, 2 ironing boards and 4 steam generator irons and 3 hot drying cabinets tour with the production.
- All the straw hats in the show are from Vietnam or Thailand.
- There are over 200 pairs of shoes in the show.
- There are 16 costume changes for each member of the female ensemble throughout the show.
- The G.I. boys’ flak jackets and helmets are all original and have been used in military action.
- Every piece of costume has a hand sewn label with the actor’s name, scene and character
- There are 60 wigs in the show.
- All the wigs are made from real hair and have lace fronts.
- The character of ‘Kim’ has 7 hair style changes throughout the show and the actress uses her own hair for this.
- 5184 individual LEDs light the backdrops on a 12 metre by 9 metre LED wall.
- There are 1437 lighting and video cues in the show, of which nearly 600 are called by the Deputy Stage Manager, 5 of them are triggered by sound effects.
- There are 136 moving lights in the lighting rig which move to over 6000 positions throughout the show.
- 16 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.
- The video elements in the show come from 2 of the latest laser technology projectors on the front of the Dress Circle.
- 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.
- This tour has more lighting elements than the Broadway and London versions of the show.
- The Stage Management team is made up of 1 Stage Manager, 1 Deputy Stage Manager and 4 Assistant Stage Managers.
- There are 600 props used in the show.
- When the show moves to a new theatre each prop has to be carefully wrapped in bubble wrap to avoid any breakages en route.
- The Stage Manager writes a report after every single performance with details about that show.
- There are 15 members of the orchestra.
- Instruments include 8 Asian flutes, piccolo and flute.
- The Asian flutes (Dizi) only play when Kim is on stage and act as her character within the Orchestra.
- 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 2 percussion players, both in separate booths and surrounded 360 degrees by instruments and 28 separate microphones.
- There are 4 members of the Sound Department on Miss Saigon.
- 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.
- There are 43 mics in the orchestra pit, 28 of them are in the percussion booth.
- Miss Saigon tours and installs a full surround system. There are around 170 speakers front of house.
- There are specific speakers overhead, on stage and on the helicopter itself to provide the audio effect of the helicopter flight.
- There are around 40 video monitors on the show.
The helicopter (aka THE MAIN EVENT):
- In an 8 show week the helicopter rotor blades spin approximately 3600 times.
- The blade span of the helicopter at full extension is 2.6 metres.
- It has 10 different moving elements, independently controlled.
- It weighs over 3 tons.
- At full height it’s the same as 1.5 London double decker buses.
- There are over 35 feedback functions on board.
- By the end of the tour, the helicopter will have travelled an Olympic running track over 50 times, that’s over 20,000 metres!
- Has been performed in 32 countries.
- In 369 cities.
- In 15 different languages.
- And has won over 70 awards including 2 Olivier Awards, 3 Tony Awards, and 4 Drama Desk Awards.
- It has now been seen by over 36 million people worldwide.
If that hasn’t impressed you, I don’t know what will…
Catch Miss Saigon at Bradford Alhambra from 19th September – 20th October 2018.
Photograph credited to Johan Persson