Miss Saigon Details
In 1980, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil premiered one of the most grandiose pieces of musical theater ever to grace the stage in Les Misérables. Nearly a decade later they staged their follow-up: Miss Saigon. Like Les Mis, Miss Saigon is an epic. It is based on the Italian opera Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini. In something of a departure from Puccini’s story, Miss Saigon stages a forbidden wartime romance, a love affair between an American GI, Chris, and the young Vietnamese woman, Kim, whom he meets in Saigon during the Vietnam War. When the two are forcibly separated as Chris returns home to America, Chris gives up hope of reuniting with Kim and marries another. What he doesn’t realize is that Kim has had his child. His discovery of this truth turns his world upside-down all over again.
As the play’s original Broadway run approached in 1991, controversy erupted when the Actors’ Equity Association tried to forbid the play from casting a white actor in the role of the Engineer, an Asian pimp. It was a very early example of a conversation around race and casting that we hear far more frequently today. The original run was nonetheless a hit, earning a massive 10 Tony Award nominations, taking home the win for three of them. Today’s more diverse cast stars Jon Jon Briones, a Filipino, as the Engineer. Eva Noblezada stars as Kim, and Alistair Brammer plays the role of Chris. All three starred in the 2014 West End revival of Miss Saigon.