Interview with Miss Saigon star Alistair Brammer
West End star Alistair Brammer is currently making his Broadway debut in the leading male role of Chris in Schönberg and Boublil's Miss Saigon at the Broadway Theatre.
Besides Miss Saigon, his UK theatre credits include Les Misérables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Taboo and War Horse, as well as the 25th Anniversary Concert and 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables. He has also appeared in the popular British TV sitcom Vicious, alongside Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi.
We caught up with Alistair to talk about Broadway audiences, Cameron Mackintosh behind-the-scenes, the rumoured film adaptation of Miss Saigon and "Making America Great Again"...
Thomas Hayden Millward: You are no stranger to the West End, Alistair. I was wondering if you’ve noticed any striking difference between working in London and now on Broadway?
Alistair Brammer: The audiences are much more vocal on Broadway. In England, I just think everyone is very polite and they clap quietly and you can hear them cough. Here, they tend to go crazy and whoop and holla and come to the stage door. It’s really nice. As an actor, it really makes you feel like you’re doing a good job.
THM: Your career has been intertwined with Cameron Mackintosh over the years. What’s it like working with him as a producer, who is reportedly so hands-on with the creative side of things too?
AB: Well, he knows what he wants. He’s become one of the most successful producers in the world for a reason. He’s not just a producer. He has a lot of ideas and he does make them known, yes. What he has become very good at is surrounding himself with people – directors and musical directors – who aren’t afraid of challenging him on certain things, if they think they can be done better. And he’s very good at saying: “You know what. OK.” It’s never actually been a problem that I’ve seen. They all just get on with it well and I think the end result is all the better for it.
THM: The production hasn’t been modified much for the Broadway audience, since its West End revival. However, of course I noticed Jon Jon Briones’ line about “Making America Great Again.” Is there a story behind its inclusion?
AB: That was Cameron’s idea (Laughs). It was just one of those ideas that was just so relevant at the moment, what with all these walls being built and things. It was a way of sneaking [the musical] into the 21st century a little bit. It’s actually the audience’s favourite part. They go crazy for it every night. It just works.
THM: I think there is a notion of “Preaching to the Converted” there, in terms of the Broadway audience…
AB: Well, yes, exactly. And, of course, it’s meant ironically.
THM: It must have been a privilege to have your London performance preserved on film and broadcast to cinemas worldwide. Have you heard anything more about the proposed movie adaptation of Miss Saigon?
AB: I’ve heard nothing more than the rumours. There is talk of Danny Boyle directing it and Lee Daniels producing it. That’s pretty much all I’ve heard. Other than that, it’s just in-the-works and they’re having conversations about it now.
THM: You played the role of Jean Prouvaire in the film adaptation of Les Misérables. Have you got your fingers crossed for a role in this one?
AB: Ooh no, I haven’t. There is a lot of film stars in the mix and I’m not one of them yet. I think they’ll pick one of them. There are some very talented film stars who can also sing, so I have no expectations that I’ll be doing it. If I’m lucky, I’ll get an audition. Who knows? Perhaps they’ll give me a little, bit part in the film.
THM: Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you get an audition, Alistair. In the meantime, the stage musical is almost 30 years old, and still such a spectacle to behold. What do you think makes this musical such a timeless spectacle?
AB: You know what, the bottom line is that it’s about love. It’s about love, loss and tragedy. That’s something that we can all relate to. No matter when or where we were born, it’s something that is universal. I think that’s why it’s so successful. I think the spectacle is born out of the epicness of the story and out of the soaring score as well.