Miss Saigon, a very controversial show, graced the Ordway Center for Performing Arts on October 8th in St. Paul, Minnesota. Miss Saigon is a modern take on the opera by Puccini, Madame Butterfly. This powerful musical is a timeless tale of love, war, and suffering and will only be performed in three cities before opening in May 2014 across the pond in London. The Ordway Center for Performing Arts was its last stop in the United States.
Miss Saigon is a tragic love story between a 17-year-old Vietnamese woman named Kim and an American GI named Chris. It takes place during the occupation of Saigon during the Vietnam War in the 70's. Miss Saigon has had numerous amounts of criticism for some believe it is a racist show with a sexist overtone despite it's multiple Tony Award nominations and wins. In 1991 it had won three Tony Awards including Best Lead Actor, Best Lead Actress, and Best Featured Actor.
I neither hated or absolutely loved Miss Saigon. It was not my favorite piece of musical literature, however, I really enjoyed some parts. There were a few flaws in the script that I felt didn't make sense or were just completely unrealistic. For example, in the first Act, I did not understand the love between Kim and Chris. They met, had sex and all of a sudden Chris is singing about his love for this young woman, whom he just met. I understand some musicals don't have enough time to set out a huge long love story. Due to them falling in love so fast, I had a hard time fighting for their relationship throughout the musical. I felt no emotional appeal for the two and did not want to fight for their love.
As I mentioned before, there were some things I did enjoy. First off I have to give absolute praise to Manna Nichols (Kim). From her very first note, she had my attention. Her voice was one of the purest voices I've ever heard on a stage. Her acting was superb however her singing is by far what kept me engaged. She would effortlessly hit a wide range of notes from both a high register and low register. It was beautiful.
Miss Saigon was once deemed one of the most technically challenging shows of its time. I had heard this before seeing the show and I was confused as to why. It didn't seem that technically challenging until the second act when a helicopter flew downstage almost from the depths of Vietnam itself. It was quite extraordinary and I was extremely impressed with it. Miss Saigon will be running at the Ordway until October 13th.
*Photo Credits: J. Urdaneta Photography