- By Kenne Hoffman
Miss Saigon premiered in London’s West End in 1989 before opening on Broadway in 1991. It was nominated for 11 Tony Awards that year and won three — Jonathan Pryce, Best Actor in a Musical; Lea Salonga, Best Actress in a Musical; and Hinton Battle, Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Based on Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, the musical tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover. Miss Saigon relocates the story to 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War, replacing the story of marriage between an American Lieutenant and a Geisha with a romance between a U.S. Marine and a 17-year-old South Vietnamese bar girl.
This month, Miss Saigon returns to the Pantages Theatre with Cameron Mackintosh’s epic new production. Mackintosh has produced three of the longest running musicals in history (The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, and Cats). Featuring a cast of 60 performers, the production highlights the evacuation of the last Americans from the Saigon Embassy by helicopter, the Victory Parade of the New Communist Regime, and the bedlam in a frenzied nightclub at the time of the defeat. This touring company includes Sooha Kim (a Korean-born actress, the first to perform the role of Kim in both English and Japanese), Ashley Gilmour as Chris, the U.S. Marine who unknowingly fathers a child with Kim, and Leo Tavarro Valdez (a popular Filipino recording artist) as the Engineer.