September 27, 2011
By Scott Andrews
Courtesy of theforecaster.net
A tragic love story set against a sweeping backdrop of history is one of the core concepts of Italian grand opera. It’s also the central idea of “Miss Saigon,” a musical that ran 10 years on Broadway.
Created by a pair of French writers and consciously crafted on the model of Giacomo Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” “Miss Saigon” is a romantic tragedy that blurs many of the boundaries between Broadway and opera.
It is also one of the most successful musicals in history. Since its 1989 London West End premiere, “Miss Saigon” has been performed in 10 different languages in 19 countries and its total box office numbers have exceeded 31 million people and $1.3 billion.
The show won 29 major theatre honors including three Tonys, four Drama Desk Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards and one Theatre World Award.
“Miss Saigon” is the third collaboration between two French writers, composer Claude-Michel Schonberg and librettist/lyricist Alain Boublil. Their prior effort was “Les Miserables,” another mammoth show that had an even longer run than “Miss Saigon.” American lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr. was added to the creative team for “Miss Saigon.”
As its final offering of the 2011 season, Ogunquit Playhouse presents and outstanding and profoundly moving, emotionally wrenching production of this masterpiece of musical theater.
The story begins in the final chaotic days of the Vietnam War and ends several years later. The principal characters are an innocent young Vietnamese woman and her lover, an American Marine. Jennifer Paz plays the title character, an appealing woman whose dreams of a better life are dashed by the realities of the conflict. Paz does an outstanding job in taking the audience along on her tragic ride.
Also tops are Gregg Godbrod as the American Marine, and Raul Aranas as a crass, cynical Vietnamese nightclub owner whose principal yearning is to escape his native country and live his perverted version of an American Dream, which consists of money, automobiles, cigarettes, food and television.
Kudos also goes to Nik Walker as a fellow Marine, Austin Ku as an evil Vietcong officer and Amanda Rose as the third point of the romantic triangle that ultimately results in the show’s tragic denouement.
Ogunquit Playhouse, a mile south of the village on Route 1, presents “Miss Saigon” through Oct. 23. Call 646-5511.