Keith’s reliving his West End hit tunes

Actor Keith Burns
Actor Keith Burns

An actor from the borough returned to one of the highlights of his career on the West End stage for a very special new film of a hit musical.

Keith Burns, from Lowton, met up again with some of the original cast members of smash production Miss Saigon earlier this year to mark the show’s 25th anniversary.

Keith Burns (third from left) meeting Princess Diana during the original production of Miss Saigon

Keith Burns (third from left) meeting Princess Diana during the original production of Miss Saigon

The production, which comes to the cinema screen this month, features a full production of the musical about American soldiers in Vietnam and then shows Keith along with star singers Jonathan Pryce and Lea Salonga coming onto the stage.

Keith, who played the role of Thuy in the first production of Miss Saigon, said it was both moving and thrilling to be part of the anniversary celebrations at the Prince Edward Theatre.

The film will be shown nationwide on Sunday and Keith will head to Cineworld in Leigh with family members and friends to watch it.

He said: “It was quite emotional. The audience at the theatre didn’t know what was going to happen, they were just asked to stay in their seats and then the curtain went up and Lea Salonga was just standing there.

I got my little break in Les Mis because Michael Ball became ill and I took over his role of Marius for six months. I was only 23.

Keith Burns

“She started to sing one of her solos and standing in the wings we could tell the audience was going crazy. One by one we all walked out onto the stage, followed by the writers and then the producer Cameron Mackintosh.

“It was amazing to feel part of something which has become so popular. People have such lovely words about it and coming on at the end of it I felt really proud to be a part of it.

“For the 25th anniversary there’s a bit of a party in London and then I’m coming home to Leigh and lots of friends I’ve got to know over the years are coming to Cineworld.”

Miss Saigon opened in London in 1989 and was put on at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.

Keith’s place in the cast gave him the opportunity to rub shoulders with royalty as he met both Princess Diana and the Queen Mother thanks to his acting and singing talents.

The role of Thuy was Keith’s second involvement in a major musical by French writers Boublil and Schoenberg as he was also in the original cast of their mega-hit Les Miserables a few years previously.

He says the two hugely-successful shows remain a highlight of his career due to their incredible enduring popularity with audiences.

Keith, who is now 53, said: “Getting into Les Miserables was a very special moment in my career. I had just come out of drama school and it was just a four-month contract.

“We didn’t know it would become what it is now, a phenomenon. I got my little break in Les Mis because Michael Ball became ill and I took over his role of Marius for six months. I was only 23.

“These two shows have always been part of my life. They are in people’s hearts because they are just beautiful stories about humanity, war, love and friendship.”

Keith developed his love of the stage aged 14 when he went to help backstage at Wigan Little Theatre.

As well as his West End roles he took on the role of the narrator in Willy Russell’s musical Blood Brothers at the Palace Theatre in Manchester and is about to head for Scotland to work on a new episode of ITV drama Shetland.

The 25th anniversary film of Miss Saigon is released in cinemas worldwide on Sunday.