Entertainment » Theatre

Miss Saigon

by Will Demers
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Oct 10, 2018
Anthony Festa and Emily Bautista in the national tour of "Miss Saigon."
Anthony Festa and Emily Bautista in the national tour of "Miss Saigon."  

The journey of an Asian woman left behind in her country by her American lover is based on Puccini's famous "Madame Butterfly," but relocated to '70s era Vietnam, in a splashy, visually and emotionally arresting show. Nearly three decades old, the musical was a follow up to 1985's "Les Miserables," written by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil and was a huge success in its initial run as well as many revivals.

"Miss Saigon" kicked off a brand new North American tour at the Providence Performing Arts Center and it shouldn't be missed. The tale of an ill-fated love affair between Kim (Emily Bautista) and Chris (Anthony Festa) resonates with audiences willing to invest in a longer but incredible engaging show. Kim works for the Engineer (Red Concepcion) during the Vietnam war; she is sold nightly to the delight of several American soldiers. But at 17, she's frightened by the prospect of such slavery until she falls for one particular man who promises her a life in his home country. Separated by time and geography, she'll look everywhere for him, and he shall not forget her.

Chris' friend and fellow soldier John (J. Daughtry) is the one to find Kim, and also the one to tell Chris about her son, apparently the result of a single night with him. Now married to Ellen (Stacie Bono), Chris has to make a choice when confronted by Kim and her son; since promised to someone else, he cannot be with Kim but she wishes for him and Ellen to take their child and care for him. It must be noted that original Producer Cameron Mackintosh is very much a part of this revival, and it shows incredibly well throughout the evening. Director Laurence Connor shows local audiences what it must have been like to witness the spectacle of such an experience nearly thirty years ago in London.

The voices belonging to our cast carry the weight and power of such an emotionally driven work; both Bautista and Festa sell their pain in such numbers as "The Last Night of the World" and "I'd Give My Life For You." Even Bono's number as she discovers Kim's declaration of love for Chris "Maybe" packs a wallop. But as the Engineer, Concepcion steals his scenes with a flamboyant flair and eye popping backup visuals and choreography, "The American Dream" and we cannot take our eyes off him. The supporting cast is no less talented and in such a slick production, the seamless transition between scenes make for a colorful night, as well as a host of set pieces that must be seen to be believed, including a helicopter taking away our American soldiers.

"Saigon" won a host of awards during its initial run, breaking box office records in its wake. While here in Rhode Island, those wishing for a taste of true Broadway can see a show locally for its limited run. Get your tickets, and bring your theatre friends with you, none will be disappointed.

"Miss Saigon" ran through September 30th at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) 220 Weybosset Street, Providence, RI 02903. For upcoming shows at PPAC, visit visit the PPAC website.

For more on the national tour of "Miss Saigon," visit the show's website.

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