BWW Review: MISS SAIGON at FOX THEATRE-Helicopters and Hopelessness Make MISS SAIGON a winner!
After 30 years of tours and a successful run in the West End and on Broadway MISS SAIGON needed a fresh coat of paint. Boy did it sure get one!
Currently on tour throughout the United States, this current production, based on the Tony Award winning revival designed by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley, features tighter pacing, enhanced effects, a more open set and revamped lighting that enhances the overall mood and tone of the productions.
Currently playing at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis before moving onto Houston, this revamped production retains the intense politics and passion of the original while infusing it with a greater emphasis on the tragic consequences of the war itself.
Despite the upgrades the core theme of MISS SAIGON has not yielded to the passage of time as it confronts American experience of the Vietnam War with a thunderous and audacious presentation. Showing no sign of wear or age, MISS SAIGON continues to tug heartstrings as it clenches audiences firmly in its emotional grip.
Based on Madame Butterfly, MISS SAIGON lifts the tragic forbidden love of Puccini's opera transfers it to 1975 Vietnam where a doomed romance between Chris, an American GI and Kim, a Vietnamese woman who is forced into a life of servitude by the Engineer, a slimy fellow who 'rescued' the orphaned girl with designs on putting her to work at Dreamland, his play palace that caters to the avarice of occupying American soldiers.
Desperate to be freed from the machinations of The Engineer, Kim puts her faith in freedom and a better life in the hands of her American lover. In the meantime, the Engineer, determined to keep his most popular girl in the fold, schemes to end their relationship.
Chris and Kim's passionate romance comes crashing in around them with the withdrawal of American forces during the fall of Saigon. Ripped apart from her beloved Chris, a forlorn Kim spends the next three years struggling to find her lost love and the father of her child.
The two former star-crossed lovers collide once more after Chris (now happily married and living in Atlanta) visits with his with his old service mate John. Settled into a new routine but still plagued by nightmares from the war. His tranquility is shattered when he learns that Kim is alive and wants to see him. Reunited at last, their angst ridden meeting culminates in unforeseen consequences.
Emily Bautista superbly bridges the gap between Kim's unbridled despondency, profound love and maternal protectionism. Setting Kim in full on survival mode, her dazzling performance culminates with two amazing solo numbers, "I'd Give My Life for You" and the wrenching "Little God of My Heart."
Alongside her is Anthony Festa as Chris. Festa's performance makes the American GI emotionally flawed and deeply frustrated by the war in just enough ways that the audience embraces both his vulnerability and moral culpability. His chemistry with Bautista is electrifying.
Red Concepción is the heart and soul of MISS SAIGON. His portrayal of the Engineer paints the character with shades of grey, giving audiences a fascinating conundrum of a man who is utterly despicable yet completely compelling. His performance of "If You Want to Die in Bed" Is one of the show's highlights.
Rounded out by an exceptional ensemble cast, this gripping and provocative production of MISS SAIGON is an emotional journey that encapsulates the chaos and carnage of war and the tragedy of forbidden romance into over two and half hours of percolating drama.
Rousing and resilient, MISS SAIGON is an experience not to be missed.
For more information on MISS SAIGON at the Fox Theatre and on tour in North America visit https://www.miss-saigon.com/us-tour