Miss Saigon is a play that has always been close to our family’s heart. Celine auditioned for the role of Kim in this Australian Tour. As you would well imagine, this is a very sought after role and the competition is fierce and intense. Nevertheless, we booked our tickets months in advance when this show came to Sydney in September-October 2007.
There are many reasons why we love Miss Saigon. Foremost is that majority of the performers who get to play Kim are Filipinas. The most popular and the first ever to play Kim is Lea Salonga who also won a Tony Awards for her performance. Lea use to reply to fan e-mails, whether it was her or not, her emails to us had been very friendly.
Another performer who is close to our heart is Roanne Monte, daughter of our friend and business mentor – Daisy Cumming. Roanne and Celine did an impromptu duet in a party hosted by Jun and Ehny Velasco. They did a duet of Ellen and Kim. We have a video of this, however at the behest of Roanne, we are unable to make it publicly available as it violates her copyright agreement. We never saw the performance of Roanne in New York. We met her long after the show had past. She also sent Celine her headshot, encouraging her to pursue her dreams.
Talking about the Australian Tour, we watched it on the 29th of September 2007, the eve before Jeanne’s Birthday. The show featured Jennifer Trijo, a Filipina Sydneysider. Interestingly, while waiting for a blood test in Plumpton Medical Center, an old lady was smiling at me. When I engaged her in a conversation – she managed to work in to the chat that she’s Jennifer Trijo’s grandmother. I can understand perfectly why she was beaming with pride. Jennifer is a fine singer and actress – she gave justice to the role of Kim. Of course Celine may have other opinion, but let’s just say she looks at the play with a different eye 😉
Another Filipino we should all be proud of is Leo Valdez, who played the role of the Engineer. We all know that Leo is a very talented singer. In this play he gave a very comedic relief to the enjoyment of the viewers. A very believable pimp and powerful stage presence.
Jeanne and I had also seen the 1995 tour of Miss Saigon in Sydney. Back then, everything is new and unfamiliar to us. In time, Celine played and sing Miss Saigon music at home so much that we could almost recite all the lyrics. The main difference back then was that the helicopter scene was presented by a hydraulic replica of a helicopter that was suspended at the roof of the Capitol Theatre. In this 2007 version, the chopper was presented through a hologram and some illusion of soldiers boarding the chopper. I think both scenes are dramatic but I must admit that the hydraulic chopper is spectacular.
I also noted that the general choreography of this 2007 Tour is very well executed. The Reunification Scene is really a part that enjoys the artistic freedom of the presentors and this part is well done. The Bar Scene at the beginning is much to raunchy for our liking. There’s too much lip smacking kissing even between song lines. But then again, we are watching this with an eye saying – OMG – that could have been my daughter playing that role – how would we feel then?