BWW Review: MISS SAIGON Opens At The Music Hall In Kansas City
Smoke, gunfire, screams, the sound of a helicopter overhead, it's not just another night in Kansas City it's the opening night for Miss Saigon now playing at the Music Hall through December 15. While other theaters are busy bringing Christmas shows to life the Kansas City Broadway Series brings us a musical tale from one of the most turbulent times in American history, the Vietnam War.
Laurence Connor directs the musical based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, the musical MISS SAIGON was written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Boublil. MISS SAIGON followed the first major success of Schönberg and Boublil, LES MISERABLES in 1985. The musical had 4,092 performances from 1989 to 1999 before moving to Broadway's Broadway Theatre in 1991. MISS SAIGON remains the thirteenth longest-running show of Broadway.
The 1989 introduction of MISS SAIGON was nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards, winning for Best Actor in a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical. The 1991 Broadway production was nominated for ten Tony Awards winning three for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. That same year it won four Drama Desk Awards and a Theatre World Award.
The idea for the musical came from a photograph Schönberg saw that depicted a Vietnamese woman making the ultimate sacrifice of giving up her young child by sending her to the United States to be raised by her ex-G.I. father. MISS SAIGON follows the story of Kim, a 17-year-old Vietnamese woman who meets a Marine, Chris, and ends up having his baby, Tam. Chris returns to the U.S. without Kim or Tam but later goes back to Vietnam where he finds Kim and agrees to take Tam back home and raise him.
A dragon, soldiers with AK47 automatic rifles, and gymnastics brings to life one of the best-choreographed songs I've heard. Though all the choreography is very good this certain piece sticks out in my mind, even after the show ended.
Red Concepción stars as The Engineer, the man who procures Kim in the streets of Saigon and takes her to his club to turn her into a prostitute. Concepción is fabulous in the high energy role, playing villain, conman, and the one character who adds humor to his performance, providing much-needed comedy relief.
Other starring roles include Emily Bautista as Kim the mother of Chris's child, Chris played by Anthony Festa who must leave Kim in Saigon not knowing she is pregnant, and J. Daughtry stars as John the friend of Chris who encourages him to go to Saigon and find his son. Each of the starring actors gives dynamic performances with beautiful voices and wonderful acting skills.
To break-up, the Christmas season go online at www.americantheatreguild.com/kansascity/saigon to purchase tickets for the remaining shows. MISS SAIGON continues through December 15 before moving on to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Photos by Matthew Murphy