Friday, September 13, 2019

THE BUELL THEATRE: 9/11 – 9/22

L-R: Anthony Festa and Emily Bautista (photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

MISS SAIGON explodes across the stage of The Buell Theatre with soaring vocals, brilliant acting and astonishing technical effects!
   The book for MISS SAIGON by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, leans heavily upon the libretto for Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY. This time, however, the geisha and American lieutenant are replaced by a 17-year-old bar girl and an American G.I.
     The whirlwind romance and subsequent marriage of Kim and Chris is followed by a harrowing story in which we as audience are brought face to face with the horrors of the Viet Nam War and its devastating results – not just upon the adults of the time, but also upon the children born of this horrible time. 
     Just as in the Puccini opera, there are obstacles galore for these two lovers.
     The music for the show by Claude-Michel Schonberg, with lyrics by Alain Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr., is powerful and dramatic in its reflection of the sweep of history, as well as poignant and heartfelt describing the romance.
     Nominated for eleven Tony Awards, the show won three.
     Emily Bautista is luminous as Kim. Anthony Festa delivers a powerful portrayal of Chris. Festa’s singing of “Why, God?” as he tries to come to terms with the timing of his falling in love with Kim and his orders to return to the states, is superb. Ms. Bautista’s singing of “Little God of My Heart,” is unforgettable. Together Ms. Bautista and Mr. Festa give us magnificent duets such as “Sun and Moon” and “The Last Night of the World.” 
     Red Concepcion’s performance in the role of The Engineer is indelible. Briber, hawker and pimp, the Engineer is the consummate conniver and survivor. Concepcion’s performing of “The American Dream” is breathtaking!
     J. Daughtry gives a dynamic performance as Chris’s buddy, John. Mr. Daughtry’s singing of the heart-rending “Bui Doi,” revealing the plight of children born of the union of American soldiers and Vietnamese women, will tear you up.
     Jinwoo Jung’s acting of the role of Thuy is exceptional.
     It’s thrilling to see local actors Matthew Daley (ensemble) and Rae Leigh Case(swing) in this touring production.
     Mick Potter’s sound design is outstanding.
    Under the baton of conductor Will Curry, the orchestra in the pit finds perfect balance with the actors/singers onstage. 
     The impeccable casting and quick pacing of director Laurence Connor creates just the right urgency to drive this heart-wrenching story forward.
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