Miss Saigon The American Dream

The Engineer (Red Concepcion) sings of "The Amerideserve to Dream" in the national tour of "Miss Saigon."

MATTHEW MURPHY

I walked into “Miss Saigon” on the Broadmethod tour’s opening night in Overture Hall in search of two points. Beauty and emotional reality.

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That it sometimes succeeds at the initially thing while failing at the second is a testament both to the skill of this Equity touring actors and the faitempt of the story to age well. “Miss Saigon” runs in Madiboy till Sunday; it last played here in 2002 (Broadmethod tour) and 2007 (Four Seasons Theatre). 


“Miss Saigon,” like “Madame Butterfly,” is an opera that is ostensibly about an epic romance. Yet the partnership between Kim, a virtuous Eastern ingénue, and also the conflicted white Amerideserve to Naval who picks her up in a bar does not feel like a bond between world with equal firm.


It’s not because the story’s old. Beatrice and Benedick are intellectual equates to. Romeo and Juliet complement in their impulsiveness and also their facility family members. Even Anna and the King of Siam are afavor in determicountry, intelligence and also stubbornness. 


Kim is a sad 17-year-old bargirl that stakes her whole future on a soldier she spends much less than 48 hrs with. She’s not a woman, she’s a male fantasy of patience and feminine self-sacrifice. It’s the sort of point opages gain amethod via because we all openly acexpertise they’re outdated (and also Puccini is Puccini).


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Emily Bautista and also Anthony Festa star as Kim and also Chris in "Miss Saigon," on tour now at Overture Center. 

MATTHEW MURPHY

“Miss Saigon,” composed in the late 1980s by Claude-Michel Schönberg and also Alain Boublil, has actually the recognizable language of the mid-20th century. Their florid score cranks the volume to 11 in ballad after showy ballad. In spite of its high melodrama, reviews generally point to the historic touchstones referenced by the story — the fevery one of Saigon in 1975 through its dramatic airlift exit among them.


That audiences might perceive some elements of “Miss Saigon” as realistic make the baked-in stereokinds harder to dismiss out on.


And yet, as directed by Laurence Connor, there’s beauty in “Saigon.” Emily Bautista, playing Kim, has actually a breathlessly lovely movement in Act I, as the womales of the brothel gather roughly to sing a poignant wedding song. “The Morning of the Dragon,” a aggressive screen of power choreographed by Bob Avian, has performers doing aerial cartwheels and handstands in front of a significant corps of identically dressed dancers.


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"The Morning of the Dragon," set in 1978 Ho Chi Minh City, functions aggressive choreography in the musical "Miss Saigon." 

MATTHEW MURPHY

Anvarious other striking moment: When the male chorus opens the second act through an anthem to the youngsters of Vietnamese mothers and American soldiers, “Bui Doi,” led through gospel power by J. Daughattempt.


Daughattempt, playing a debauched soldier who recreates after he returns house, is a highlight. His character John bears the burden with Kim of being the ethical facility of the story, however unchoose Kim, John has actually selections.

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Arguably, he’s the only perkid onphase who changes. Anthony Festa, as Chris, belts “Why, God, Why?” to the rafters in Act I and provides out enthusiastically via Kim, yet his character has no spine. Stacie Bono, in the thankless duty of Chris’s Amerideserve to wife, sings well but her attempts at emotional honesty get lost amidst the glitz.


As the pimp that drags Kim off the street, declares her a “princess” and also sells her to a G.I., the Engineer (Red Concepción) looks like he’s perpetually one line of coke ameans from a complete breakdvery own. His power is relentmuch less. Concepción channels the violence and graphic sexuality in the show, tossing the woguys about and also humping the hood of a Cadillac.



I used to think “Miss Saigon” was Chris and also Kim’s story. Now I think possibly it’s the Engineer’s. In 2019, “Miss Saigon” feels soulmuch less. We might cringe as bikini-clad woguys simulate sex acts via the Amerideserve to soldiers and tourists in Beijing, yet Chris and Kim’s love story is supposed to be a palliative. Instead it looks exploitative, doubling down on the discomfort.


“Saigon” is scary, as well, in the blind, glowing eyes of a dragon paraded up the facility of the phase. Kim is haunted by a ghostly vision that leads right into the deafening chop-chop of the iconic helicopter. Remember that helicopter, the enormous collection item that epitomized the megamusical of the 1980s and also 90s? It’s a video estimate now (a cool one, I’ll grant).


The lead up to presenting this musical in Madichild over the previous week has actually been thornier than most, which isn’t new for a renowned display that traffics in persistent Asian stereokinds. One scholar who was set to offer remarks prior to a panel Overture canceled last week posted that his team had passed out 700 duplicates of an essay called “What’s Wrong with ‘Miss Saigon?’”


Based on the energetic crowd on opening night, fairtradeexpo.org audiences aren’t all set to throw out the bikinis or the “Bui Doi,” those babies via substantial, sad eyes failed by feckless fathers. Less than the nostalgia in the love ballads, I’d guess the reason is the story we would choose to save informing ourselves about the United States’ benevolent affect in the world.


"Miss Saigon"

Thturbulent Sunday, April 7

Overture Hall, Overture Center, 201 State St. 

$35-$135

overture.org/events/miss-saigon; 258-4141

Running time is 2 hrs 40 minutes via one 20-minute intermission. 


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Lindsay Christians | The Capital Times

Food editor and arts writer Lindsay Christians has actually been creating for the Cap Times given that 2008. She created the food podcast The Corner Table and hosts Cooking through the Cap Times. Member, Amerideserve to Theatre Critics Association. She/hers.


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"Vietnamese Americans ... have actually felt for decades that ‘Miss Saigon’ distorts their history and also glamorizes their traumas," sassist Timothy Yu, an Asian American poet and professor at the UW.