BWW Reviews: Street Theatre Company's MISS SAIGON IN CONCERT: Superb and Moving

Kristi Mason, who only two weeks ago was playing Babe in Lipscomb University Theatre's high-spirited revival of The Pajama Game, plays Chris' wife Ellen with lovely restraint, giving a superb acting performance through her singing. With a dramatic sense of purpose, the golden-throated Joshua Waldrep, whose character of John is an updating of Madame Butterfly's Sharpless, performs "Bui Doi"-a challenging anthem of hope and despair blended in perfect harmony for greatest effect-at the top of Act Two with a barely contained rage and ferocity underscored by honest emotion.

As The Engineer, Kenny Eiland gives a no-holds-barred performance, showing us the smarmy charm of his character with a wink and a nod while walking a fine line. The Engineer is a character unique in musical theater: He is, quite certainly, an anti-hero who though deplorable plays an important role in the creation of the conflict that is at the center of Miss Saigon. The wild-eyed abandon with which Eiland portrays The Engineer is off-putting and disquieting-and ideally nuanced.

Among the ensemble, Maia Cole is wonderful as the sexy and beautiful Gigi, while Danny Tran plays Kim's cousin Thuy (to whom she was promised by her father before his death) with a resolute earnestness made frightening by his single-minded devotion to the Communist regime.

As with other productions staged as part of Street Theatre Company's "In Concert" series-which have included Chess, Ragtime and Tommy-Miss Saigon runs for just one weekend, so you should make your reservations immediately.

Pictured (at top) Larissa Maestro, Danny Tran and Michael Holder; (at bottom) Michael Holder and Larissa Maestro/photographed by Heavenly Perspective Photography

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.


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