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Sunday, August 22, 2010

London Show of "Miss Saigon" and Lea Salonga

Sun and Moon Scene
The other day, I received an e-mail from a Face Book friend complaining that the tickets for Cats with Lea Salonga singing the song Memories in Manila cost P5000 pesos each equivalent to a little more than $100. I told her that the price is worth it just to see Lea Salonga performed live and in person. Her letter reminded me that way back in 1990, Macrine and I paid to see Miss Saigon in London, the ticket price of $110 each. It was expensive then, but the seats were in front and it was the only two available seats at the time slot that we are free. The show was worth it. Macrine and I cried like babies at the end of the show. The finale was a tear jerking scene. I am now crying as I can still remember the scene after all these years. It was one of the best live musical we have seen in our lives(see the original Finale Scene in the related video below).

Here's a short video of the highlights of Miss Saigon courtesy of You-Tube. If you are not familiar with the story of the show, I have attached a short description and history of the show from Wikipedia below.

"Miss Saigon is a West End musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr. It is loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, and similarly tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover. The setting of the plot is relocated to the 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War, and Madame Butterfly's American Lieutenant and Japanese geisha coupling is replaced by a romance between an American GI and a Vietnamese bar girl.

The musical premiered at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in London on September 20, 1989, closing after 4,264 performances, on October 30, 1999. It opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre in 1991 and subsequently played in many other cities and embarked on tours.

The musical represented Schönberg and Boublil's second major success, following Les Misérables in 1980. As of August 2010, Miss Saigon is still the 10th longest-running Broadway musical in musical theatre history.


The musical's inspiration was reportedly a photograph, inadvertently found by Schönberg in a magazine. The photo showed a Vietnamese mother leaving her child at a departure gate at Tan Son Nhat Air Base to board a plane headed for the United States where her father, an ex-GI, would be in a position to provide a much better life for the child. Schönberg considered this mother's actions for her child to be "The Ultimate Sacrifice," an idea central to the plot of Miss Saigon.

Highlights of the show include the evacuation of the last Americans in Saigon from the Embassy roof by helicopter while a crowd of abandoned Vietnamese scream in despair, the victory parade of the new communist regime and the frenzied night club scene at the time of defeat.

Many of the major European musicals on Broadway started in the 1980s, including Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and Les Misérables and then included Miss Saigon into the 1990s.

West End

Miss Saigon premiered in the West End at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on September 20, 1989 and closed after 4,264 performances on October 30, 1999. The director was Nicholas Hytner with musical staging by Bob Avian and scenic design by John Napier. In December 1994 the London production became the Theatre Royal's (Drury Lane) longest running musical, eclipsing the record set by My Fair Lady.

The original Kim was played by Lea Salonga, who became famous because of this role and won the Laurence Olivier Award and Tony Award. The original Engineer was portrayed by Jonathan Pryce who won a Tony Award for the role.

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