Miss Saigon is a human story, told against the background of a war torn country, a city where heroism and vice exist side by side; in which, despite the drama and the destruction, love prevails.
Most of this story is told through music and song. In this it resembles an opera, but the music by Schönberg is contemporary musical, which has not dated. Compare ‘I Still Believe’ as sung by Kim, with ‘One Fine Day’ in Madam Butterfly.
Miss Saigon opens with a night in Dream Land, a strip joint run by the The Engineer (Seann Miley Moore). His role is pivotal to the twists and turns of the story line, as he presents as super confident, super controlling, then as bargaining for his life and freedom; to his final, wishful performance in ‘The American Dream’. The costumes designed by Jennifer Irwin add the final touch to a virtuoso and convincing performance.
Kim (Abigail Adriano) and Chris ((Nigel Huckle) play out their love story through the excitement of discovery to the tragedy of being parted. Kim as the gentle, unsophisticated young woman, gives the G.I Chris a sense that the world is no longer ugly and pointless. Kim later reveals a loyalty and belief in that love, and a steely will to protect her son. Chris attempts, in vain, to take Kim to the U.S. with him as he escapes the final days of Saigon. Eventually he forges a new life in the US. Songs such as ‘The Last Night of the World’ ‘You Will not Touch Him’ and ‘I’d Give My Life For You’ stay in the memory long after the curtain has come down. Both of Kim and Chris, as the lovers, sing and act with convincingintensity.
The cast, chosen from Australian singers and dancers, (although some also have created careers overseas), shows that any vestige of ‘culture cringe’ is now dead. It is not possible to name them all, but I would like to commend the performance of Thuy (John Mossman) especially his ‘Intervention’.
There are moments of drama, moments of spectacle, such as the Dragon, and evocative and skilful dance routines. (Associate Choreographer, Richard Jones) provided additional staging to the original work by Bob Avian.
The ever present sounds of war against the sleaze of the dance clubs, the panic and the despair of the refugees brings home the effects of war, even in our own times. All this is achieved by skilful lighting design (Warren Letton and Hugh Hamilton) and sound effects (Nic Gray and Shelley Lee). The musical director in Australia is Geoffrey Castles and the Australian production was directed by Jean-Pierre Van Der Spuy.
There is no happy ending. No dancing off, hand in hand, into the sunset. Kim and Chris’s story is a story too often lived out in our troubled world. People still flee warring countries and many still see the US as the country to fulfil their dream. This production of Miss Saigon, holds up a mirror to the price so many people pay when conflict explodes into war. As such it fulfils the requirement of all good drama – something that entertains but also stays with an audience for a long time.
Help Support 5mbs
We have a fantastic team of members and volunteers at 5mbs, with many opportunities for more. Check out the various ways you can help support the passionate team at 5mbs