Miss Saigon is coming to Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City from October 15 – 20. This theatrical spectacle tells the story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim who falls in love with an American G.I. named Chris during the fall of Saigon. Get ready to come enjoy the show by learning a few behind-the-scenes facts first:
- Miss Saigon is a retelling of Giacomo Puccini’s famous opera, Madama Butterfly, except instead of Japan, Miss Saigon is set in the Vietnam War, during the fall of Saigon. The musical is by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil who are famous for also creating Les Misérables.
- The musical was inspired by a photograph, which Claude-Michel Schönberg, who wrote the music, found while flipping through a magazine. It showed a Vietnamese mother leaving her child at a departure gate at Tan Son Nhut Air Base to fly to the United States where she hoped the child’s father, an ex-GI, could provide a much better life for the child. Schönberg was inspired by the mother’s sacrifice for her child and that became a key idea in Miss Saigon.
- Lea Salonga originated the role of Kim on the West End in London when she was 18 years old. She also originated the role on Broadway and became the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award. She later played Eponine and Fantine in Les Misérables and was the first Asian to play those roles, then was the voice for Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin and Mulan in Disney’s Mulan.
- One of the iconic moments from Miss Saigon is the helicopter which flies in, lands and leaves on stage. Since the original production in 1989, theatrical technology has advanced and the new experience includes large engineering mechanisms, projection and lighting designed by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley. The helicopter weighs over 3 tons, which is twice as heavy as a normal car. It is 26 feet at full height and the blades extend to 19’ 8” in diameter.
- The costuming in Miss Saigon features original pieces and lots of changes for the 42 cast members. All of the straw hats are all from Vietnam or Thailand, and the G.I. flak jackets and helmets are original and have been used in action. There are also 200 pairs of shoes total and 16 costume changes for each female ensemble member.
- Internationally, Miss Saigon is translated in 15 different languages, has played in 32 countries and has 14 cast recordings (including albums and suites). Miss Saigon remains the 13th longest-running show in Broadway history and has won more than 70 theatre awards. Awards include three Tony Awards®, four Drama Desk Awards and three Outer Critics Circle Awards. 9 trucks and a cast of 42 and an orchestra of 15 will bring this epic Broadway musical to Eccles Theater.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy