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The Heat is On: Meet Eva Noblezada, the Star of ‘Miss Saigon’

Category Actor Spotlight

|by Matthew Wexler |

The leading lady of ‘Miss Saigon’ is as charming as she is talented

Utterly engaging and humble, 21-year-old Eva Noblezada is tasked with playing one of the most emotionally and vocally challenging roles currently on the Broadway stage. She’s currently starring as Kim in the revival of Miss Saigon at the Broadway Theatre. By now, most theater fans know that casting director Tara Rubin spotted Noblezada at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, which led to her eventually landing the coveted role for the London production and subsequent Broadway transfer. And much like her predecessor, Lea Salonga, who originated the role in 1989, Noblezada has been thrust into the spotlight with a dynamic performance that will steal your heart and likely cause a few tears. had a chance to chat with Noblezada shortly after the show’s opening about her experience playing Kim, a 17-year-old Vietnamese girl who falls in love with an American G.I., which sets her on a harrowing journey of survival.

Eva Noblezada stars in ‘Miss Saigon’ on Broadway

Eva Noblezada stars in ‘Miss Saigon’ on Broadway

You’ve been with Miss Saigon since the 2014 London revival at the Prince Edward Theatre and now you’re at the Broadway Theatre in New York (where the show originally played). How are the theaters different?
The Prince Edward in London was much wider and the Broadway has a lot more depth. Acoustically it’s very different. The Broadway is a massive theatre (1,761 seats)! So our sound designer Mick Potter and sound engineers are terrific at making sure everyone in the audience can hear the show all the way to the rear balcony.

How have American audiences differed versus the West End?
It's almost like a concert here in New York – people are so vocal! We had an amazing response in London, but during the show, it was like a movie. They'd clap after scenes but were really watching and more reserved in their reactions. After the show, the stage door was much calmer in London. On Broadway, it's a huge thing to go to the stage door and meet the performers and there is always an enthusiastic crowd waiting for us.

Several of the lead actors have all come along for the ride, including Jon Jon Briones (The Engineer), Alistair Brammer (Chris) and Rachelle Ann Go (Gigi), but now you also have Katie Rose Clarke (Ellen) and Devin Ilaw (Thuy) joining the cast — how have those new onstage relationships evolved?
I’ve been so lucky with the show – everyone who has played Ellen or Thuy has always brought a vulnerable side and dug deeply intro their characters. Katie Rose is an amazing friend and it’s an honor to work with her. I have to admit when I was in school I’d watch her performance in The Light in the Piazza over and over again and was just mesmerized. When we started rehearsals for Miss Saigon I felt the same way seeing her sing “Maybe.” She’s such a kind, graceful person and the performance is heartbreaking.

Devin, too, delivers such an original interpretation of his role.

What do you do to take care of yourself physically, particularly your voice? Do you have a regimen to stay healthy and in good vocal shape?
I try to do things that distract me from the show during my off time. If I get stressed, my body and my voice take a toll. So lots of yoga and the gym!  I also feed my body as healthily as possible and act sensibly. I’m not going to go out during the week or have a chocolate bar before going on stage, but otherwise, I'm not drastic. I also worked with vocal coach Liz Caplan, who helped make the show even stronger for me vocally.

The themes of Miss Saigon are particularly relevant given the world’s political climate. How does this resonate with you?
It’s one of the purest reasons of why I still love doing the show. I’m not ungrateful, but the joy of being on Broadway is irrelevant compared to what we’re trying to tell audiences, which isn’t always pretty. It’s a gritty story – the lengths people will go through and the sacrifices made for love.

Love is a necessity that the world is lacking right now and we’re trying to bring that to the surface. Yes, Miss Saigon has amazing vocals and all of the features of a Broadway show, but it’s not just about that. You can’t experience the fall of Saigon and not be emotionally connected, and this is what I love about the show – that we’re able to keep an open dialogue about how Miss Saigon is still so relevant.

So… New York City. Now that you’re living here, have you had a chance to discover any sights or neighborhoods?
I’m familiar with the city but it’s nice to finally be living here and discovering places. I love the area around Lincoln Center and now that the show has opened, I’m looking forward to exploring more of downtown.

Miss Saigon plays through January 13, 2018

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