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‘Saigon’ Comes to Orange County

By Chris Trela
Newport Beach Indy

It’s been years since the musical “Miss Saigon” landed in Orange County, so it makes sense that Segerstrom Center has booked Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed new production of “Miss Saigon” for a two-week run starting Oct. 1.

“Miss Saigon” tells the story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim, orphaned by war and forced to work in a bar run by The Engineer. She meets and falls in love with an American G.I. named Chris, but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. Kim spends three years trying to get reunited with Chris, who is unaware he has fathered a son.

Ensemble member Eymard Cabling plays “The Engineer” at certain performances of “Miss Saigon.”

Like the original Broadway production that opened nearly three decades ago, the show boasts a riveting story, stunning special effects, and spectacular production numbers including, “The Heat is on in Saigon” and “American Dream.”

According to Mackintosh, “Miss Saigon” is more timely than ever.

A scene from “Miss Saigon,” which begins a two-week run on Oct. 1 at the Segerstrom Center.
Photo by  Matthew Murphy.

“The tragic love story at the heart of the show has become even more relevant today with innocent people being torn apart by war all over the world,” said Mackintosh in a press statement. Noting that this new production is grittier and more realistic than the original, Mackintosh said it has not toured much because it requires “a huge international cast of Asian and Western performers and a vast array of visually stunning sets. Now, for the first time in 19 years, as it continues to wow audiences in major cities around the world, theatergoers across America will be able to see one of the most spectacular musicals ever written in all its glory, in a new production that critics in London and on Broadway have embraced.”

The original Broadway production of “Miss Saigon” opened on April 11, 1991, with what was the largest advance sale in Broadway history ($37 million). The show went on to play for nearly 10 years with 4,111 performances and was seen by more than 5.9 million people. The show has been performed in 32 countries, over 350 cities, in 15 different languages, has won over 70 awards including two Olivier Awards, three Tony Awards and four Drama Desk Awards, and has been seen by over 36 million people worldwide.

“Miss Saigon” ensemble member Eymard Cabling, who performs the role of The Engineer at certain performances, said there are differences between this production and the original.

“There are small details, some lyric changes, some of the staging elements have been changed, and one song is completely new, but it’s pretty much the same show but edgier, more racy,” said Cabling.

When the “Miss Saigon” touring company was in rehearsal last summer, Cabling said the show’s creators came and told the cast how timely the show is with everything going in in the world.

“In my opinion, it’s very powerful,” said Cabling. “I have a theatrical duty to put stories like this in front of an audience so they can get a feel for what it is like to be part of a displaced country during war-torn times. We are living in a very volatile world. Every time I watch the news, I see the parallel. It’s amazing to be part of something so cyclical, yet it’s strange to see history repeat itself.”

There are two moments in “Miss Saigon” that everyone remembers: the “American Dream” production number, and the life-size helicopter that swoops down to pick up soldiers leaving Saigon.

Cabling said most of the lyrics to “American Dream” have been changed and are now more gritty and in your face. He also said there is still a helicopter, although he was coy in describing the effect.

“There is indeed a helicopter,” he admitted. “By the use of modern technology and amazing electronics and theatrical magic, you will see a new and improved helicopter. I cannot say how it is done, but it is there and will not disappoint.”

Neither will this production of “Miss Saigon,” which runs through Oct. 13.

For tickets, visit SCFTA.org or call (714) 556-2787.

 

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