Theatre Mirror Reviews "Miss Saigon"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2012 by Tony Annicone

"Miss Saigon"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Marquee Theatre Productions' current show is the Southeastern MA premiere of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's, "Miss Saigon" an epic and tragic musical of a young couple in love, who are torn apart by the Vietnam war in 1975 but are held together by a burning passion and the fate of a small child. The conflicting cultures and ideologies of the world meet violently in Saigon where cultures clash and ways of life battle on a grand scale. At the eye of the storm stand these two lovers, Kim, a Vietnamese girl who is forced to work in a sex shop and Chris, an American marine guard at the U.S. embassy. When Saigon falls and the old city disappears forever under the red banners and yellow stars of the Viet Cong, Chris not realizing that Kim is pregnant, is forced to evacuate with the U.S. forces from the country. She falls in with her former employer, the procurer of sex slaves, the Engineer, who is determined to reach America with Kim's son as the passport he needs and he pretends to be her brother. The three of them then move to Bangkok. Chris returns home and eventually marries, a few years later he learns of his son. He and his wife, Ellen travel to Bangkok to find Kim who is determined to make Chris take their son back to America at any cost.Director Roberto S.C. Soares assembles a multitalented cast to fill all these roles while musical director Alex Tirrell not only taught these intricate melodies and harmonies to the cast but plays lead keyboards and conducts a fantastic orchestra while choreographer Loralee Levesque not only taught the dances but stages picture postcard moments with the performers. This magnificent show is a masterpiece with its soaring ballads, comic songs and gut wrenching dramatic acting. It is rewarded by loud applause during the show and a thunderous standing ovation at the curtain call. Bravo on a job extremely well done.

Roberto keeps the action flowing throughout the show with fast set changes and his direction and blocking brings out the best in all his cast members. Alex's non-stop conducting and playing lead keyboards of 64 musical numbers is amazing. He makes the cast and the 18 piece orchestra sound splendid while doing so in this all singing opera type show. Some of the musical numbers sound like "Les Miserables", "The King & I", "South Pacific", "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Evita". The standout group harmonies in the girls songs are "The Movie in My Mind" where they envision their escape from Saigon and "The Wedding Song" where Chris and Kim pledge themselves to each other and the boys songs " The Heat is on in Saigon" and "Bui-Doi" which is a tear jerking number about the children left behind at the end of the war. The ensemble's voices excel in "This Is The Hour" and "The Morning of the Dragon".Loralee's dance numbers include the sex shop dance by the girls who are dressed up like the Kit Kat girls from "Cabaret", the scary marching of the Viet Cong with their rifles as well as a "King & I'' ballet type dance in "The Morning of the Dragon" and the patriotic type dance with a soft shoe and a kick line in "The American Dream". All the costumes are by Aaron Gendreau-Visco and the set is by Robert Perry.

Leading this multitalented cast is Jillian Zucco as Kim. She has a powerhouse voice which fills the theater with her strong soprano voice. Her many solos include "Unicorn", "Sun and Moon" reprise and "I Will Give My Life for You" which she sings to her son. Her other numbers include "Movie in My Mind" and the many ballads with Chris including "Kim & Chris Dance", "This Money's Yours", the gorgeous duets, "Sun & Moon" and "Last Night of the World" with a fantastic saxophone solo by Morgan Reitzas in it and "Please" with Chris' best friend, John. Jillian's other duets include "I Still Believe" and "Kim and Ellen" with Ellen. Jillian delivers a tear jerking performance as Kim. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Jay Burke as the Engineer, who helps the GI's by supplying them with girls in his sex shop called Dreamland. Later in the show he entices the tourists in a Bangkok sex shop. Jay delivers the needed comic moments to escape from the harsh realities of the war. The Engineer is reminiscent of the Emcee in "Cabaret". His voice is topnotch and his most impressive numbers are the well known vaudeville type song "The American Dream" where he sings and dances about finally escaping from Bangkok with his hilarious humping of a Chevy onstage, "If You Want to Die in Bed" which vocally reminds you of Judas in "Superstar" and ''Bangkok" where he sells his wares in this new country in a sex shop. Tyler Indyck is terrific as Chris, playing the role with the necessary anguish and pathos the part calls for. His tenor voice soars off the charts in his solo "Why, God, Why?" where he wonders why he finally found the girl of his dreams in hellish Vietnam. This song is reminiscent of "Younger Than Springtime" from "South Pacific". He also excels in his duets with Kim, "Sun and Moon'' and "Last Night of the World" which displays the raw emotions of being in love but not being able to control your destiny and in the emotion packed "The Revelation" with John. Tyler's show stopping moment comes when he breaks down in tears during "The Confrontation" song with John and Ellen. It is a gut wrenching sequence. I last reviewed Tyler as Angel in "Rent" in 2010 and before that in the comic role of Doody in "Grease". Robert Goulet Jr. plays Kim and Chris son Tam who doesn't utter a word but captures your heart from start to finish.

Chris' best friend,John is marvelously played by Jared Robinson who makes this soldier buddy into a warm and caring friend. He eventually helps Chris to find his long lost son. Jared uses his phenomenal tenor voice to sell the emotion packed, gut-wrenching, "Bui-Doi" which opens the second act and is sung with the harmonizing men's chorus while a film of real Vietnamese children plays in the background. He also sings in many numbers including the helicopter escape, "Please" with Kim and "The Confrontation". Chris' American wife,Ellen is beautifully played by Jessalyn Sadler Correa. She conveys the confusion at Chris' bad dreams and behavior as well as her eventual realization of the horrors he suffered in Vietnam. Jessalyn's fantastic voice is heard in the counterpoint song with Kim called "I Still Believe" and in the confrontation songs called "Room 317" with Kim and "The Confrontation". Her solo is terrific as she realizes Kim's plight in "Now That I've Seen Her" and stops the show with her powerhouse rendition. Kim's cousin Thuy who she was pledged to be married to, made by her parents many years ago is played by James Lambert. Thuy is the villain of the show who tries to take Tam away from Kim. James oozes the right amount of evilness as this repressive agent of the Viet Cong. He shows off his topnotch voice in "Thuy's Intervention", "The Morning of the Dragon", "The Coo Coo Princess", "Thuy's Death" and "The Nightmare". Nadine Goulet plays Gigi, one of the Engineer's girls and she gets to show off her voice in the opening montage, the wedding song and "The Movie in My Mind''. Kudos to everyone in the show including the singing and dancing chorus members. So for a terrific musical treat, be sure to catch "Miss Saigon" by Marquee Theatre Productions. Tell them Tony sent you. You definitely won't be disappointed.

"Miss Saigon" (9 - 12 February)
MARQUEE THEATREPRODUCTIONS
@ Bristol Community College, 777 Elsbree Street, FALL RIVER MA
1(508)678-7031

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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