Midtown Arts Center has debuted the musical “Miss Saigon,” a fateful portrayal of the relationship between American GI, Chris, and Vietnamese bar girl, Kim. The musical is set during the Vietnam War, and showcases music by Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Alain Boublil.
Chris first meets Kim while on duty in Vietnam, where he and his comrades are being entertained by a beauty pageant-like scene at the bar, where Kim, played by Lora Nicolas, works. Along with other Vietnamese girls, she is trying to be crowned “Miss Saigon.” The women want to win the crown in order to win the affection of the GI’s for the night in hope to get a GI to take them to the safety of America.
One audience member was taken aback by the fact that the women had to prostitute themselves to make a better life.
“I don’t know what I would do in those circumstances,” said audience member Vivo Sakhrie. “But people do whatever they have to to survive. It’s tragic that it has to be that way.”
Despite unfavorable situations, Chris falls in love with Kim and they get married before he goes to home to America for three years. While at home, Chris marries Ellen, but is haunted by nightmares of Kim with a child, an ominous prediction which comes true.
One truth about the Vietnam War that the musical discusses is the Bụi đời, which is a name given to children born in Vietnam with American GI fathers and abandoned Vietnamese mothers. Not accepted by either culture, these Bụi đời children are born as the “dust of life”.
With such well-rounded characters, the show dives deep into themes of survival and the bond between a mother and child, proved in “Miss Saigon” with an ultimate sacrifice.
Chris, played by Midtown Arts Center Resident Company actor Nigel Huckle, had an excellent tenor voice that was complemented by the rest of the cast. As this musical was mostly vocals, audience members were impressed by the note-worthy performance of the whole cast.
“There’s not a lot of difference between the top and the bottom performer because it’s so balanced in terms of the casting in every play. It’s very consistent,” said Bev and Karl Hagman, season ticket holders to Midtown Arts Center.
“Miss Saigon” is the first dinner theater play to take the stage this year at Midtown Arts Center and was very well received.
“I just loved it,” Sakhrie said. “It’s a very intimate setting, the food was great, and the staff. It was all really a lot of fun, it was much better than I thought it was going to be so that was a really good surprise.”
The musical is held every Thursday through Saturday night with Sunday matinees through November 22nd. Tickets are $49 on Thursday evenings and Sunday matinees, and $59 each on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The dinner theater does a tapas night that includes an appetizer, a drink or bottle of wine, a dessert and the show all for $29 on Thursdays and $39 on Fridays.
For more information visit Midtown Arts Center website, www.midtownartscenter.com.
UPDATE: A previous version of this article mistakenly labeled ticket prices as $39 and the tapas night as happening on Tuesdays. The Collegian regrets these errors.
Collegian A&E Writer Sierra Cymes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sierra_cymes.