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Inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera titled Madam Butterfly, Miss Saigon is a musical set in 1975 in the final days of the Vietnam War. American soldiers celebrate with prostitutes of Saigon. One of these soldiers is Chris—a sergeant usually repelled by clubs and partying. He ends up going out to celebrate, spending the night with a new bargirl named Kim. When they fall in love, Chris works to get her freedom from the bar owner, an act that puts this surprising love story into motion. First opening in 1991, this musical recently returned to Broadway, much to audiences’ and critics’ delight.
Somewhere along the lines of a tragedy of passion, Miss Saigon shows the racism, sexism, exploitation, and abuse that are part of history. When Kim has Chris’ child—a “bui-doi”, meaning a child conceived during the horrors of war—how does she manage to raise him? When Chris returns to Vietnam years later, have Chris and Kim waited for one another? What morals will the choose to abide by, and which will fall to the side? These are complicated questions, unpacked by the artful acting of Emily Bautista/Myra Molloy, Anthony Festa, and supporting cast. Haunting, secretive, broken, jarring, tumultuous, and traumatized, this story will be remembered for years to come. And unlike productions in past decades, where white actors play Asian roles, Miss Saigon is more authentic and honest, casting with more cultural awareness than would have been seen in the era in which the musical is set.
The original production of Miss Saigon set a high standard for the return. It won Drama Desk Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards, Tony Awards, and Theater World Awards; it grossed nearly half a million dollars in one week. When the story was brought to audiences again in 2017, it was under the expert guidance of composer and librettist Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyricist and librettist Alain Boublil, and lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. It is produced by Cameron Mackintosh, who has contributed to some of the longest-running musicals of our time and of all time—Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Cats. It is directed by Laurence Connor, who has directed major projects as well, such s School of Rock, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera, and Oliver!.
Political and unresolved till the end, Miss Saigon is not for the faint of heart. The Daily Telegraph wrote that “This thrilling new production spills out beyond the theater and speaks directly to the times we live in! Magnificent performances,” and Heat Magazine names it “The most powerful and moving musical you’ll ever see.” With scenes that have strong languages and are sexual in nature, Miss Saigon is suited for more mature audiences. The use of strobe lights, pyrotechnic effects, and gun shots may make some viewers uncomfortable, but are shockingly immersive for audiences. If the must-see story of Miss Saigon grabs you as it has thousands of audience members, book your tickets today.