Experiencing the joys and tragedies of Miss Saigon

Emer Handly

Credit: MissSaigon.com

Stunning vocals, promiscuous dancing and laughter filled the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre during its heart-breaking production of “Miss Saigon”.

Set in the 1970’s during the Vietnam War, it is an adaption of the early-20th century opera “Madam Butterfly”. Producer Cameron Mackintosh and his team have certainly done justice to a beautiful yet tragic tale.

At just 17, Kim (Sooha Kim) is forced to work in a Saigon bar and brothel run by a deviant man known as the Engineer (Red Concepción).

Kim’s performance included some gorgeous vocals that give you goose bumps. Her naive yet strong personality left the audience in awe.

The Engineer is a conniving character that you love to hate. Despite the fact he makes money from women selling their bodies, Concepción’s performance was funny and upbeat.

The numbers performed in the bar are risqué but entertaining. When the men are too drunk and the big hurrah is over for the night, the audience get a glimpse of how lonely and hopeless the women of the brothel are.

One night, Kim meets and falls in love with an American soldier named Chris (Ashely Gilmour). They plan to marry and move to the USA but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon.

Their separation is truly the most impressive scene. Loud noises, bombs, locals desperately trying to get away and distraught Kim searching for an even more distraught Chris. A helicopter, that looks bizarrely real and blows the minds of the entire audience, comes to take the US soldiers home. Chris’ best-friend John (Ryan O’Gorman) forces him to leave without Kim.

For three years Kim goes on a journey of survival in the hope that one day she will be reunited with her love. However, she has a secret. Kim has a 3-year-old boy named Tam.

Chris decides his life in the US must move forward and he remarries a woman named Ellen (Zoë Doano). He has no idea where Kim is or if she even survived. He is also completely unaware that he has a son.

There is a great depiction of American foreign policy after the war. John works to take care of the Bui Doi, Vietnamese children abandoned after the war, and give them a better life. He sings a heartfelt song about them and a screen behind him plays a slideshow of their faces that leaves a golf ball in your throat.

Chris learns of his son and travels to Vietnam with his wife. Kim is heartbroken over the fact Chris still chooses Ellen. She asks them to take Tam to America so he can have the life she didn’t.

Kim cannot live with the idea of not being with Chris. Her heart is broken.

While Chris meets his son for the first time, Kim makes a decision that shocks the audience to their core. She kills herself.

Miss Saigon is a phenomenal, truly heart wrenching tale. The tragic story of war, love, loss and despair is a theatrical masterpiece.

Emer Handly