Miss Saigon

Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg

Lyrics: Richard Maltby, Jr. & Alain Boublil

Based loosely on Belasco/Puccini's Madam Butterfly, Miss Saigon began to form in the minds of composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyricist Alain Boublil when they saw a photograph of a little Vietnamese girl who was about to board a plane from Ho Chi Minh City to the United States of America where her father, an ex-GI she had never seen, was waiting for her. The child's mother held her hand, knowing she would never see her daughter again. Schönberg and Boublil found this mother's silence and her child's tears a powerful condemnation of all wars which shatter the lives of people who love each other.

The story of Miss Saigon revolves around Kim, a young Vietnamese woman who is forced to work in a sex shop in Saigon. She quickly falls in love with Chris, a marine guard at the U.S. embassy, but when Saigon falls and the old city disappears forever under the red banners and yellow stars of the Viet Cong, Chris--not realizing that Kim is pregnant--is forced to retreat. He returns home and eventually marries, but a few years later, he and his wife return to find Kim who is now determined to make Chris take their son back to the United States.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh wisely decided to team Schönberg and Boublil (the creators of Les Misérables) with Richard Maltby, Jr., a lyricist known primarily for intimate character musicals Off-Broadway. The result was an unlikely but highly successful marriage: the sweep and passion of opera couched in the grittier musical vernacular of our own time.

Miss Saigon opened at the Drury Lane Theatre in London on September 20, 1989. The Broadway production featured Lea Salonga as Kim, Willy Falk as Chris, and Jonathan Pryce as the Engineer, a cynical Eurasian pimp.

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Les Misérables

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