The current Broadway season in Appleton has served much like a greatest hits album, bringing in the most buzzworthy productions of their times.
Today’s chart-topper, Hamilton, made its Wisconsin premiere here in fall and was followed by The Phantom of the Opera. This week, one of the biggest, most talked about productions of the 1990s will capture the imaginations of Fox Valley theatergoers.
The acclaimed musical, Miss Saigon, opens tonight at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center with a run that will continue through Sunday.
Expect a spectacle.
“In the last days of the Vietnam War, 17-year-old Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There, she meets and falls in love with an American G.I. named Chris, but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 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.”
Here’s what they’re saying:
Ben Gierhart, who reviewed the touring production for Broadway World, called it outstanding.
“When Miss Saigon first arrived on the Broadway stage, it was a technical marvel and delightful spectacle,” he wrote. “From the very beginning, Director Laurence Connor sets a frenzied pace that seems appropriate to a country ravaged by war and eager to be done with it.”
Tony Frankel, who reviewed the tour for Stage and Cinema, said it’s “infinitely stronger than the original Broadway outing.”
It’s still a large and impressive production. It features a cast of 42.
“Under Laurence Connor’s vigorous direction, the production’s technical elements are astounding by any measure, but especially impressive given that this is a very large tour — about five buses and six trucks,” Frankel wrote.
The production is also bringing forth some opportunities for learning in Appleton.
On Monday night, two visiting cast members from Miss Saigon recounted their family experiences as children of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants.
On Wednesday, a discussion will be held at the Appleton Public Library on soldiers’ perspectives on the Vietnam War. Dr. Chia Youyee Vang will lead the discussion. She is the author of “Fly Until You Die,” an oral history of the Hmong pilots in the Vietnam War,. Dr. Vang will discuss the multiple perspectives she has heard through her research and talk with diverse local veterans about their similar and different experiences from this point in history, represented throughout the production of Miss Saigon. A presentation on her book will take place at 4 p.m. A panel discussion with veterans will run from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the community is invited to a panel discussion on Asian identity, culture and gender dynamics. The discussion will focus on the Asian community, their struggles, successes and challenging stereotypes throughout Northeast Wisconsin and beyond. Inspired by Miss Saigon, moderator Dr. Pam Her will lead an examination comparing and contrasting personal experiences to the show’s themes. The 10 a.m. event will take place at Long Cheng Market, 1800 S. Lawe Street, Appleton.
The discussions are free and open to the public.
Miss Saigon will include evening performances through Sunday as well as matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday. For ticket information, click here.