Miss Saigon

Bristol Hippodrome

Until June 23

I'VE always been a sucker for a weepie love story, which makes Miss Saigon more than tick all the right boxes for me.

With a pair of star-crossed lovers, a wartorn setting, an innocent so cute he melts hearts without doing more than stare wistfully across the footlights, rousing music, spectacular sets and some dazzling dance routines, this production is a cracker.

Add in the famously spectacular helicopter evacuation scene, which ratchets up the tension in the auditorium to a level very few shows match, and its a wonderful night.

For those who've never seen it, and without spoiling the pleasure for everyone who is heading to the Hippodrome this summer, the storyline is simple: US soldier Chris falls head-over-heels for orphaned peasant bargirl Kim, but their whirlwind romance is abruptly ended when she is left behind in the evacuation chaos that ended the Vietnam War.

Fast forward three years, during which, with the help of former bar owner The Engineer, she survives, never losing faith that her beloved with come for her. But when he arrives, driven to hunt for her by a revelation from his ex-Army buddy John, things once again don't go well.

The touring production of the show, which was revived in the West End in 2014, stars Sooha Kim, the first Korean actor to take the role, as Kim, and she brings huge depth of emotion to it. Ashley Gilmour is equally strong as Chris, and their scenes together tug at the heartstrings: I was in tears at least twice.

But the star of the show has to be Red Concepcion, who plays The Engineer with a vivacity, passion and panache to rival any of the stars who have belted out numbers like American Dream and The Heat is On in the past.

On only its third outing in Bristol, for my taste the show began with the pace a little too fast and the quality of the diction in the first few numbers suffered. As it progressed the cast seemed to relax, steady down and create a marvellous evening.

My companion, a newcomer to the show, felt the second half was better than the first, with more action and less confusion around the timeline.

We both loved it - there are tickets still available, and I'm contemplating coming back, which would make it the third time I've needed to pack the tissues when setting off. Which would beat the record currently held by Evita on stage and The Incredible Journey on film - I don't mind admitting to being a big softie.

Alison Phillips