Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Miss Saigon"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2001 by Robert Guenthner

"Miss Saigon"

Reviewed by Robert Guenthner AKA oldgrump

"Miss Saigon"

Music by Claude-Michel Sconberg
Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boubil

Scenic Designer Dex Edwards
Lighting Designer John McLain
Costume Designer Jay Woods
Sound Designer John Stone
Stage Manager Robert Levinstein
Casting Norman Meranus
Music Director Kathy Rubbicco
Directed and Choreographed by Barry Ivan

Kevin Gray--------The Engineer
Thos Shipley--------John
Brian Noonan-----Chris
Skie Ocasio---------Thuy
Rona Figueroa----Kim
Jessica Hendy------Ellen
Stephanie Bast, Ryan Patrick Binder, Jerad Bortz, Steven Brennan , Jason Chow, Sandor DeGrazia, Drew DiStefano, Jessica Hirota , Christopher Kate Jones, Christine Langer, Dominic Lim, Joji Montilbano, Drew Niles, Bobby Pestka, Janina Reiner, Luke Rawlings, Miguel A. Romero, Ray Santos, Darrtl Semira, Futaba Shioda, Michiko Takemasa, Connie Teng, Sachiko Wachi

I am a bit prejudiced when it comes to seeing Miss Saigon, it is one of my favorite musical dramas. From the size of the crowd, and the adding of another performance, many others are enjoying it as well. I don't know how NSMT can keep bringing us the talent it does, for the prices it charges. Each and every cast I see at this wonderful theatre pleases me. I may not care for every play on the schedule, but the players are all top of the line.

The show is Madam Butterfly brought up to today, or rather the war years. A marine [ Chris ] falls in love with a teen age bar girl. They spend a sexy week together before the fall of the country. After being shipped out, he tries, but cannot find her so he goes on with his life and marries. Kim [ the Vietnamese girl ], leaves and sneaks into Bancock. She has a child by the marine and prays that her son will become an American boy.

Thuy, a guy that Kim was promised to by the family, finds her. Kim kills him when he threatens the child. She is helped by the Engineer, a pimp and drug peddler, who also wants to go to America. He is so evil, you can't help but love him. They escape to Bancock where Kim works in a bar again. Chris finds out he is a father and goes to Bancock with his wife. The two of them decide that the child should stay with his mother and not be brought to America. Kim kills herself, which she believes will let her son go with the father. The end. The songs are great. The Engineer is really the star. He has a couple of songs that stop the show.

Miss Saigon is a difficult show to put on, on a stage in the round. I have learned it is called an arena. The effects are all designed to be used on a large regular style stage. NSMT did a good job in presenting us with special effects. The scaled down helicopter was a surprise, I didn't think they could do it. The chain link fence is necessary to the story, it was there. We saw an over sized champagne bottle instead of the huge convertible in the American Dream number. How could they get the car on stage?

The audience started giving their standing ovation as the ensemble began taking their bows. Even the most cynical observer would have to agree, the people that pay the money to see the show loved it. I am going to see it two more times.

Kevin Gray was magnificent. What a voice! I have seen six different actors perform this role, and Kevin was by far the best. His acting matched his voice, perfect is the only way to describe his over all work.

Brian Noonan, his Jekyll & Hyde on the tour, put him right up on the top of the list for that show. His work in Miss Saigon did nothing to lessen my appreciation of this handsome young man. The character Chris; all of the other times I have seen the show, he seemed to come off as a wimp late in the second act. Brian brought out the sensitive side of Chris without him being a woe is me person.

Rona was a lovely Kim. She looked, acted, and sang this roll like she was born to play it. It is a sympathetic role, but if it is not presented properly, it could turn into a soap opera character.

Thos Shipley's bio will amaze you. He is a multi talented person. He sings jazz as well as Broadway, does voice overs, and has a degree in Electronics Engineering. I saw Thos on Broadway a couple of years ago and he is just getting better and better.

Jessica Hendy is another super voice in the play. A very pretty lady. I think she was able to take a rather unlikable Ellen, and make her into a likable person.

Skie, speaking of playing an unsympathetic role. I for one felt sorry for Thuy. He loved Kim in his own way, followed her trail for years, then was killed by his betrothed. She had to kill him, but I still had some empathy for him. Skie couldn't have done a better job, no one could have done a better job. The ensemble were all good singers, dancers, and were good looking to boot.

Futaba was a cute little Tam. A second grader who is also a serious figure skater.

I have to mention Stephanie Bast. I have seen her in the ensemble of plays on Broadway and on tour. She is a beautiful and charming girl with a voice that deserves more notice. Someday I hope to see her get a lead in a show

. There were widely scattered seat available on Sunday. Even if you sit in the last row, you will not be very far from the stage. The language and settings may not be suitable for the very young, but I guess they can hear worse on the school bus. I am eagerly looking forward to next Sunday.

Dunham Road
Beverly Mass
978 921 7883
The show runs through the 18th, Tuesday - Sunday. By popular demand, an evening show will be put on for Sunday 11th and extra day, Monday 19th.

"Miss Saigon" (30 October - 19 November)
62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY, MA
1 (978) 232-7200

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide