The Mysterious Case of the Replaced Song


I recently went to see one of my favourite musicals of all time, Miss Saigon, in its West End revival shortly before it made the move to Broadway. My excitement at seeing a show that I adore (with music I know every note of) was unmatched, and I was delighted when the production surpassed my expectations, with a fantastic cast and some amazing set and costume design. However, there was a moment in the second act which completely threw me – one of my favourite songs from the show, ‘Now That I’ve Seen Her’, was replaced by a new song written for the revival, entitled ‘Maybe’. Sung by the same character, with more or less the same sentiment, the new replacement song felt inferior in many ways.

Miss Saigon tells the tragic love story of a Vietnamese girl named Kim and an American GI named Chris, who fall in love in the midst of the Vietnamese war, and are separated as the Americans pull their forces out of the country. The second act of the show takes place three years later – Kim is looking after their child and Chris is married to an American wife, Ellen. ‘Now That I’ve Seen Her’/’Maybe’ takes place after the two women accidentally meet for the first time. It is the song that allows you to see Ellen as more than just the obstacle in the way of Chris and Kim’s reunion, and lets you see her as a woman who fell in love with a tortured man, who desperately wants to do the right thing.

Narratively, it probably made sense to replace the intensely emotional ‘Now That I’ve Seen Her’ with a song that explains the situation more clearly. ‘Maybe’ spells out the details of Chris and Ellen’s relationship, where they were merely implied in the original production. Still, in prioritising narrative clarity, the production missed out on the emotional journey that ‘Now That I’ve Seen Her’ takes. In the original song, you understand the conflict that Ellen feels in sympathising with Kim and her situation, while still desperately wanting to maintain her own relationship with Chris. Additionally, ‘Maybe’ is also quite forgettable, with the same musical expression repeated with very little variation. In comparison, ‘Now That I’ve Seen Her’ stays with you both in the context of the musical, and as a powerful song in itself.

When any show or musical is revived, some degree of change is inevitable. Producers and directors appear to feel an inexorable need to modernise shows that might seem problematic or dated to a modern audience. While I can understand the desire to make a revived show relevant to theatregoers, I think it is important for producers to remember why they are creating a new production of a much loved piece, and why audiences flocked to it to begin with. Before the previews even began, this production of Miss Saigon broke box office records by making £4.4 million in the first day of sales alone. None of these people had seen reviews, they bought tickets because they loved the music, had seen the show in its original run, or were simply intrigued by the storyline. When a show is revived, it feels important to stay truthful to what people loved about the original, and some of the hardest work can be figuring out what that is. This time, Miss Saigon missed the mark slightly by removing an element that people absolutely adored.


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Studying for my PhD focusing on Eighteenth Century Pirate Literature. Writer 2011-2013, Culture Editor 2013-2014, Editor 2014-2015, Culture Exec 2015-2016, Writer 2016-2017. Longest serving Edgeling ever is a title I intend to hold forever.


  1. Saw it last night in LA and my jaw it the ground when realizing my favorite song was replaced with a forgettable number… so disappointing!

    • I’m with you! I saw it on Wednesday in Seattle and again tonight and was hoping it was an error that the song “Now That I’ve Seen Her” was omitted from Wednesday’s performance. Tonight’s show confirmed that the cut was unfortunately intentional. The new song “Maybe” (if you can consider it a song) has some beautiful moments, but it is definitely not worthy of replacing NTISH. Instead, it was Ellen singing some of her fragmented thoughts without the same heart-wrenching emotional pull that the powerful vocals the former song provided. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the show (hence why I paid 5x as much as my first ticket to see it a second time from better seats) but am very disappointed that there was an idea (and worse, execution of the terrible idea) to replace such a memorable and favorited song.

  2. I still haven’t gotten over them changing “it’s her or me” to “now that I’ve seen her”, I can’t imagine losing the emotion that those songs bring.

    • I was wondering if someone was going to mention that it was previously called It’s Her or Me. I still think that is the best one. It shows the gut-wrenching fight she is having and her resolve to keep Chris in her white world. Why soften Ellen? She’s not a villain, but she is a white woman, somewhat racist (the turn down the bed comment), and out of touch (doesn’t understand why Kim would want to give Tam to her.)

  3. Totally with you, Maybe does explain more, but no passion and no love for Ellen. The other song really made you connect to Ellen to the point where you think, what would you do if you were Chris?

  4. What’s really weird is that the song got retroactively replaced on Amazon’s streaming platform with the 2 CD Set Miss Saigon The Original London Cast Recording. Wish someone could crack how that one song got replaced???

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