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Twenty-Five Years Later, The Heat Is Still On for 'Miss Saigon'

02/10/2014 17:23 BST | Updated 02/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Like any red-blooded 23-year-old male, musical theatre is one of my biggest loves, yet until last week I had managed to go my entire life without catching one of Cameron Mackintosh's most beloved shows, Miss Saigon.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to get the chance to not just watch the musical for the first time, but to catch a special gala performance from some of the show's original stars, in honour of its 25th anniversary.

Having no clue what to expect from Miss Saigon - which, for those who don't know, tells the emotional story of an American soldier fighting in Vietnam, who falls in love with a young local girl - I asked the Twitter-sphere what I could expect from the Tony award-winning musical.

The responses ranged from "big songs and big army men" (which certainly sounded promising) to "prepare yourself for some serious tears". Either way, I was almost unanimously told that I was going to cry.

This was pretty much a given already. Truth be told, I can't actually remember the last time I went to the theatre (or, indeed, the cinema) and didn't leave a sobbing mess. Catch me on a bad day and you might well find me slumped in front of ITV2, weeping over poor little Shanessa's paternity results on The Jeremy Kyle Show. So I decided to take the "prepare to cry" warnings with a grain of salt.

This, I soon realised, was a grave error.

By the time Act One was over, and I'd seen hopelessness quickly develop into all-encompassing love before ultimately plummeting back down to despair, I had cried so profusely that there was basically no moisture left in my body.

But it wasn't just sadness. By the time the musical was over I felt like I had experienced every emotion under the sun in just a couple of hours.

And I do mean every emotion. It's true that Miss Saigon has its sombre moments, but to write it off as just being a two-hour weep-a-thon would not be doing it justice at all. In fact, there are also moments of hope, of joy and - yes!- even a few laughs in there to lighten the mood following a few of the darker moments.

I had barely had time to reflect on the amazing spectacle I'd just been a witness to, when we were treated to a few numbers from some of the show's original West End cast from 25 years earlier. Lea Salonga and Simon Bowman, the original Kim and Chris, performed the gorgeous ballad Last Night of the World, proving their on-stage chemistry was still as every bit as palpable as it had been in 1989.

Following this, Jonathan Pryce, who created the role of The Engineer, showed up for a performance of The American Dream, one of the more upbeat show-stoppers from Miss Saigon, which helped break up the more teary moments.

The enthusiastic reaction from the audience - many of whom had caught the show during its first run a quarter-century ago - truly proved that, even 25 years after its debut, the heat was very much still on in Saigon.

So, after finally watching Miss Saigon, I have two things to say. If you've still not seen it, I implore you to book tickets, immediately if not sooner.

And secondly, as I was advised, make sure you bring your tissues. The show will make you think and it may even make you laugh but, in now into its 26th year, it will also make you cry.