Miss Saigon is the tenth-longest running Broadway Musical in music theatre history, according to Hernandez (2009). Such was its success that it has toured all over the world since its opening day in April 1991 (Broadway Musical Home n. d. ). The plot of the play is simple enough, a Marine fell in love with a young Vietnamese call girl while in Vietnam, serving in the Vietnam war (Music Theatre International n. d. ). He fathers her child but does not discover it until a few years later when he has another family from coming back to America (Music Theatre International n. d. ).
In the play, he was forced to choose between his legal wife and the woman he loves (Music Theatre International n. d. ). The composer of the songs in the musical is Claude-Michel Schonberg, the lyricists are Alain Boubil and Richard Maltby Jr. and the librettists are Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil (Broadway Musical Home n. d. ). My experience Over a decade ago, I was fortunate enough to watch a production of Miss Saigon on Broadway with the original casts. These casts were: Hinton Battle, Barry K. Bernal, Liz Callaway, Kam Cheng, Willy Falk, Jonathan Pryce, Lea Salonga.
I understand that Salonga and Pryce are Olivier and Tony award winners for their performances as Kim (the Vietnamese girl) and the Engineer (the pimp) for this musical. Back then, I was so overwhelmed by the production. I thought the cast was fantastic; Salonga was so good, so very convincing as Kim. She had such a powerful voice, constant and unwavering, so pleasant to listen to. I was perhaps 10 or 11 when I saw that original production on Broadway, and it was an amazing experience. At the time, I could not fully comprehend the seriousness of the issues being tackled in the script.
I just knew I liked listening to the songs and I bought a CD to remember the play. When I was vacationing in Houston, Texas last February, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see Miss Saigon again. I do not quite remember the Broadway actors who have played it, and to be honest, I have did not pay close attention, I simply wanted to see the reproduction of that Broadway play I remember from long ago. A quick search on Google tells me that this reproduction played at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts was directed by Bruce Lumpkin.
Kim, is played by Melinda Chua, Chris (the Marine) is played by Eric Kunze and Joseph Anthony plays the Engineer (BWW News Desk 2010). Having listened to the original cast’s CD of the play, the new cast fell short of the vocal prowess I have come to love. As such, I was underwhelmed by the casting and their singing despite their respective accomplishments in their craft. Salonga was just too strong a performer for me and her voice was perfect, in my opinion. The songs “Sun and Moon” and “Last Night of the World” did not have the certain charm they used to have with that reproduction’s performance.
What I am thankful for for this reviewing is that I fully understand now what Miss Saigon is all about. I remember the story from memory and I knew it had a tragic ending. However, this second watching of the film helped open my eyes to the grave issues involved in the play. First, it talked about the horrors that war can do, especially to the innocent. Kim was orphaned because of the war and being an orphan forced her to work in a night club where all sorts of horror can be imagined. A third world country like Vietnam, would not miss the chance to serve the enemy for some good money.
One particular scene that was intriguing for me was during the opening acts when the girls at the night club were competing to be Miss Saigon, the winner will be auctioned off to a Marine and the winner of such contest begged the Marine she was auctioned to to take her back to America, where she can live a better life. The Marine there refused. It shows how America is such the dream land for the third world country people. America that was their enemy in the war, who was killing their men in its continuous search for imperialism.
Kim, in that night club met Chris, another Marine. Kim and Chris spent the night together, Chris was touched by the innocence of Kim and he tried to give her money so she can get away from the night club. Kim did not accept the money, even for her fee for spending a night with Chris. She was a virgin and she did not accept the money because, essentially she liked the experience and perhaps because she was developing feelings for Chris. Basically, Kim and Chris fell in love but Chris had to leave but before leaving he promised Kim that he will come back and marry her.
This of course, did not happen because of a series of events that thwarted their love. Chris married another woman and before the play ended, he was forced to choose between Kim and his wife, he chose his wife. Kim committed suicide and such was the ending to this wonderful musical play. Such love story was poignant, evoking feelings of melancholy.
References: BWW News Desk. (2010). TUTS Announces Their MISS SAIGON Cast, Show Opens 2/9. BroadwayWorld. com – Dallas.
Retrieved 21 July 2010 from http://dallas.broadwayworld. com/article/TUTS_Announces_Their_MISS_SAIGON_Cast_Show_Opens_29_20100115 Broadway Musical Home. (n. d. ). Miss Saigon. Retrieved 21 July 2010 from http://www. broadwaymusicalhome. com/shows/misssaigon. htm Hernandez, E. (2009). Long Runs on Broadway. Playbill. com. Retrieved 21 July 2010 from http://www. playbill. com/celebritybuzz/article/75222-Long-Runs-on-Broadway Music Theater International. (n. d. ). Miss Saigon. Retrieved 21 July 2010 from http://www. mtishows. com/show_detail. asp? showid=000156
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Topic: Music theatre history
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