Seventeen-year-old Filipino-American Eva Noblezada has been cast to portray the titular character Kim for the upcoming West End revival of “Miss Saigon,” reports The Daily Mail.
Noblezada is slated to do four performances a week while remaining shows will be covered by two understudies once the show opens at the Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014.
Noblezada hails from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her father was born in Guam to Filipino parents.
Earlier this year, Noblezada won Best Actress at the Blumenthal Performing Arts High School Musical Theater Awards for her portrayal of Ariel in Northwest School of the Arts’ production of “Footloose.”
She was spotted by Broadway casting director Tara Rubin when she joined the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York.
Noblezada was given a private audition with “Miss Saigon” director Laurence Connor in New York. She auditioned for Macintosh a few weeks later.
The paternal cousin of Noblezada’s father, Annette Calud, performed on Broadway as part of the original ensemble cast of “Miss Saigon” in 1991, and took over from Lea Salonga in the lead role of Kim in 1992. Calud also played Celina on “Sesame Street” from 1992 until 1996.
“Eva came home already knowing she was cast,” says Calud. “But she had to wait for the official casting announcement before she could share the news with family and friends.”
“I was fortunate to get to work through the songs with her before she auditioned, though she didn’t need much help at all. Hearing her sing … I knew for certain she would land the part.”
Born to do it
In her blog, Calud foresaw Noblezada’s future in a post she wrote years ago: “Even at age 3 Eva had pipes. She would stand on a piano bench and sing Disney princess songs with that sweet and perfectly pure innocent voice. Now at age 14, she can command the stage with the presence of any Broadway diva. With a God-given talent, her amazingly versatile voice can effortlessly croon everything from Lady Gaga to Barbra Streisand.
With a cavernous Broadway belt and the vocal finesse of Celine Dion, my niece will undoubtedly see her name in lights on the Great White Way.”
“Eva has never needed to be inspired about musical theater. She was born to do it,” says Calub, who took Noblezada as a child to watch her first Broadway shows. “I took her to see ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera.’”
“I am beyond thrilled and excited for Eva. I had no doubt because I know what it takes to conquer this role, and she has the vocal power and control to sing the score. She has the acting depth to break your heart. She was born to play Kim.”
“Miss Saigon” celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. It features music by Claude-Michel Schönberg with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil, adapted from the original French lyrics by Boublil.
Based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly,” the musical is set in 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War. Kim is a bar girl who falls in love with and is abandoned by an American GI.
The 2014 production set a new record for the largest single day of sales on West End and Broadway history, with £4,402,371 recorded on the first day the tickets went on sale in September this year.
Producer Cameron Macintosh told The Daily Mail that Noblezada reminded him of Lea Salonga, who was cast as Kim in the original West End staging in 1989.
“Eva’s going to be our new Lea,” Macintosh said.
“Miss Saigon” was staged in Manila in 2000-2001 with Salonga reprising her role.