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Miss Saigon to launch North American tour at PPAC in September

Tickets on sale since June 10, local audiences privileged to see kickoff

By Laurence J. Sasso, Jr.

Miss Saigon, the enormously successful, soaring, yet heart-rending musical first graced American stages and entranced U.S. audiences on April 11, 1991. Before opening on that date the show had the largest advance ticket sales ($37 million) in Broadway history.

According to a media release, Miss Saigon went on to play to audiences for almost 10 years, racking up 4,111 performances and winning 70 awards, including three Tonys. Some 5.9 people saw the riveting production about the effects of the Vietnam War on a G.I. and the Vietnamese woman who fell in love with each other and suffered dearly for it.

It also offered the tragic account of the mixed race children called bui doi (dust of life), the offspring of American troops and Vietnamese women who were abandoned and left-behind when the United States departed from Vietnam. These children were shunned and treated as outcasts by the culture, interned in camps and neglected.

The musical made a powerful impact, created awareness of a rueful byproduct of the war in Southeast Asia, and awakened audiences to even more sad after effects of the conflict that changed both nations in so many ways.

Now for the first time in 17 years U.S. theatergoers will have a chance to see the story again. Advance publicists for the show are calling it “one of the most spectacular musicals ever written,” and the Providence Performing Arts Center has been given the honor of launching the production’s North American tour on September 21-30.

The new iteration of the Claude-Michel Schonberg – Alain Boublil production with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. opened in London in May of 2014 and has played to critical acclaim in the U.K. ever since.

The Daily Telegraph said, “This thrilling new production spills out beyond theatre and speaks directly to the times we live in – magnificent performances.” In a little less than three months the first U.S. viewers to get a crack at the show will do so at PPAC.

Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, the newly minted Miss Saigon is directed by Laurence Connor with musical staging by Bob Avian and additional choreography by Geoffrey Garrett.

A brief synopsis circulated by the show’s promoters provides a description of its essence: “Miss Saigon tells the story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim, who is orphaned by war and forced to work in a bar run by a notorious character known as The Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris, but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For three years Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son.”

A happy ending is not in the cards in the world created by the Vietnam War. Hope for their child’s safety and survival resides in the future if it’s attainable at all. Like great opera, this tale mines the depths of irony and pathos, lost chances, and dashed dreams of deliverance, and it does so with poignant, piercing acuity. The chance to see this breath-taking musical drama should not be missed.

For more information or to obtain tickets call PPAC at 401-421-2787 or visit ppacri.org