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Charlotte teen Eva Noblezada debuts in London’s ‘Miss Saigon’

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/19/16/52/gLfU9.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Matthew Murphy -
    Eva Noblezada and Kwang Ho Hong from the 2014 production of Miss Saigon in London.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/19/16/52/11f1MW.Em.138.jpeg|416
    Michael Le Poer Trench -
    Eva Noblezada and Alistair Brammer from the 2014 production of Miss Saigon in London.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/19/16/52/bhHmw.Em.138.jpeg|421
    COURTESY OF EVA NOBLEZADA VIA TWITTER -
    Eva Noblezada poses on the streets of London during her rehearsals for “Miss Saigon,” opening Wednesday.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/19/16/52/MkzO2.Em.138.jpeg|409
    ANNETTE CALUD -
    Eva Noblezada, then 16, played Maria in Northwest School of the Art’s production of “West Side Story. “

Try to imagine how nervous you would be if you were Eva Noblezada.

The Charlotte teenager is barely 18 and hasn’t officially graduated yet from Northwest School of the Arts.

On Wednesday, she’s making her professional debut in London’s West End, in the 25th anniversary revival of “Miss Saigon.”

Not in the chorus, or in a smaller supporting role. No, Noblezada is playing the lead, the doomed Vietnamese lover Kim – the same role played for two years on Broadway by her aunt, Annette Calud, who understudied for Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, the original star. (Calud may have a familiar face to anyone who’s watched “Sesame Street” videos: She was Celina on the show in the early 1990s.)

On Sunday night, the Blumey Awards at Belk Theater marked one year since Noblezada started the incredible journey that landed her on stage in London:

Last year, she won best actress for her boot-strutting performance from “Footloose.” That brought her a trip to the Jimmys, the National High School Musical Theater Awards, in New York.

While she didn’t win there, she was a finalist, which got her the chance to perform “With You” from “Ghost.” That caught the attention of Broadway casting agent Tara Rubin, who arranged her audition tape for London producer Cameron Mackintosh.

At the Blumeys in Charlotte on Sunday night, Noblezada sent a video greeting, recorded in her dressing room in London, and the audience recorded a cheer to send back to her.

On Wednesday night, Blumenthal President Tom Gabbard will be in the audience in London with his wife, Vicky, and Don and Mary Doctor of Cramerton. The Doctors’ support made the Blumey Awards possible, he says.

“I wanted them sitting in the theater to really savor all they’ve helped to happen,” Gabbard said Monday before leaving for London.

At Northwest School of the Arts, teacher Corey Mitchell promises he will be watching for the first review to be posted from the London Times – and he’ll spread it to the whole school.

“Oh my stars, yes,” Mitchell said. Early reports from the previews, which have been performed for several weeks, have been followed closely by everyone from students to parents. (So far, they’re positive.)

On Twitter and Facebook, Noblezada has been posting pictures and hashtags about the excitement of her life in London. But she’s not that far from home. On Sunday, she tweeted this:

“MYFAMILYISHEREMYFAMILYISHEREMYFAMILYISHERE.”

And someday, who knows? She may be back here, on stage at the Belk.

“We certainly hope so,” Gabbard said Monday. “She has a big adventure ahead. Who knows what lies ahead for her?”

Purvis: 704-358-5236
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