Will Ray & EJ Zimmerman to Lead Riverside Theatre's MISS SAIGON

Riverside Theatre's 40th Anniversary celebration continues with one of Broadway's longest running hits, Miss Saigon. This epic musical performs on the Stark Stage from January 14 through February 2, 2014 and is sponsored by the Merrill Lynch O'Haire Fessler Group and our Patron Producers.

From the Creators of LES MISERABLES, comes this classic story of love and loss in the turmoil of war. Based on Puccini's Madame Butterfly, this stunning theatrical piece follows the tale of an American soldier and a Vietnamese girl who fall in love, only to be separated during the fall of Saigon in the Vietnamese War. With thrilling, show-stopping musical numbers like "I Still Believe," "Why God Why?," and "The American Dream," Miss Saigon is an epic, musical masterpiece showcasing the enduring emotional power of the human spirit!

Following their international success with LES MISERABLES, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil were inspired to create Miss Saigon after viewing iconic pictures of the fall of Saigon in a magazine. The pictures show "the ultimate sacrifice" when a Vietnamese mother sends her young child on a plane to her father, and ex-GI, to live in America. What led up to this moment? What would the child's life be like in a new country? Would she ever see her child again? Those were the questions that occupied the minds of Schonberg and Boublil.

The Vietnam War was the most controversial war fought by the United States, violently protested by students and pacificists. The intent of the war was to prevent communist North Vietnam from overrunning South Vietnam. The prevalent view at the time was that if one Southeast Asian country fell to the Communists, the rest would follow (the "Domino Theory").

U.S. involvement began in the1950's, by providing military aid to France in its effort to protect South Vietnam from communism. The U.S. sent the first ground troops to Vietnam in 1965, after the North Vietnamese bombed two U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. We continued to fight a "limited" war until 1973, when the Paris Peace Accord led to a cease fire and the removal of U.S. troops by the end of April. The U.S. still maintained a large presence in Saigon in March, 1975, when the North Vietnamese began an aggressive invasion of the south.

From the end of March and throughout April, 1975, there was a mass exodus of U.S. Defense Attaché personal as well as South Vietnamese who had worked with and for the U.S. Most evacuees left by plane, although many Vietnamese left by boat.

The North Vietnamese attacked the Saigon airport early on April 29, 1975, rendering it unsafe for fixed wing aircraft. At 11:38am, the American radio station broadcast Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," which was the signal for all American personnel to move immediately to evacuation points. The U.S. then conducted a massive airlift of remaining Americans and Vietnamese by helicopter. 395 Americans and approximately 4,000 South Vietnamese were evacuated during these last hours prior to the fall of Saigon.

Hailed by critics and audiences alike, Miss Saigon showcases the human drama of love and war in a more recent setting.

The musical premiered at the Theatre Royal in London on September 20, 1989 playing over 4,000 performances. The show opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on April 11, 1991 and closed on January 28, 2001 after 4,092 performances. Miss Saigon is still the 12th longest-running Broadway musical in musical theatre history.

Directed by James Brennan, Miss Saigon stars Will Ray as Chris, EJ Zimmerman as Kim, Dana Costello as Ellen, Herman Sebek as The Engineer, Philip Michael Baskerville as John, Edmund Nalzaro as Thuy, Andrew Giordano as Schultz, Chase Kamata as Gigi, and Jenzell Paciencia as Tam.

The ensemble cast includes: Paul Aguirre, Eric Badique, DJ Buccuarelli, Joven Calloway, Billy Casey, Ron Dizon, Daniel J. Edwards, Eddie Egan, Joanne Javien, John Paul LaPorte, Richard Michael Lee, Q Lim, JP Moraga, Glen North, Andrew Wilson, Jody Cole Wood, and Anna-Lee Wright. The children's ensemble includes: Junabel Paciencia and Emily Monaco.

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