Cameron Mackintosh’s triumphant musical that tells the tale of a tragic romance through the heartbreaking Vietnam War boasts powerful musical numbers and an abundance of intense emotion. With the production embarking on a UK tour, people all around the country better bulk-buy their tissues in order to prepare for this heart-rendering show.
I spoke to Ryan O’Gorman and Gerald Santos who are playing John and Thuy in Miss Saigon – two men that are very much immersed in the emotion of the production. John (Ryan O’Gorman) is an American GI and closest friend of Chris, who is in love with orphaned Vietnamese girl Kim. John is very much Chris’ rock and supports him through his pain and heartbreak when he is torn apart from Kim.
Thuy (Gerald Santos) is an officer for the country’s Communist government, and also the cousin of Kim. When they were young their parents arranged for them to marry, he is distraught that Kim is in love and turns angry and violent towards her.
Both characters have stark differences, but both are surrounded by the action and pain that is brought upon Kim and Chris in their heart-wrenching romance. When approaching the role, Ryan said: “The music does so much for us, it is so emotive and strong. Different characters have different emotional arcs but their large ones are helped so much by the wonderful music.”
Although Ryan’s role experiences a lot of trauma, Gerald faces the challenge of causing a lot of the trauma. When immersing himself into the role and the production he said: “I think my character is really heavy and bitter so it is getting into my nerves already. So I will pray before I enter the studio and immerse to the character of Thuy and at the end of rehearsals I will pray in order to get rid of the character until the next rehearsal.”
For both actors, they really have to detach themselves from their roles when stepping off stage or going home from rehearsals. “Everyone asks you how you stay fit and healthy and if you go to the gym, but that is the easy bit,” Ryan explained. ” It is important to stay healthy mentally as well as physically. It is so important as an actor to have that separation and downtime. Something I like to do is to literally step away from work, it is hard when you are hammering out scene after scene – particularly when you’re rehearsing it time and time again. To kind of leave all that emotional baggage behind is a skill in itself.”
Although both roles require a lot of stamina both physically and mentally, Gerald and Ryan are relishing in the challenge and can’t wait to head out on tour with such a triumphant production. The score, the story and the production values are so epic, and they expressed how grateful they are to be taking on such phenomenal production.
“Coming to London and seeing a West End show is not always affordable for everyone these days, so the fact we go regionally is amazing and you always get unbelievable audiences on tour,” Ryan said. “Touring isn’t easy as whilst a lot of the cast have left loved ones at home and as they have flown over to the UK to do the show, we have left the people we live with which is never easy. I haven’t stopped touring for the last two years once we have finished this tour, but I am so excited for this production.”
The cast are literally from every corner of the world, as the actors are so diverse and multicultural, a lot of them have never even been to the UK, let alone toured it. “I am looking forward to creating great memories with my cast mates,” Gerald expressed. “I left my loved ones in the Philippines, but what I really love about this is I get to tour the UK and do what I love. Even though I left my loved ones, I know they are supporting me and it is really an honour for my country and for me.”