Miss Saigon is based on Puccini's classic opera, Madame Butterfly. Set in 1975 during the final days of the American occupation of Saigon, Miss Saigon is an epic love story about the relationship between an American G.I. and a young Vietnamese woman. Kim is working in a sleazy Saigon night club owned by a notorious wheeler-dealer known as “The Engineer.” John, an American G.I., buys his friend Chris the services of Kim for the night. That night will change their lives forever. Three years later, the US Army has fled Saigon. Chris has returned to America and, believing Kim is dead, marries an American woman named Ellen. However, Kim is alive, has left Saigon and is living in poverty with her three-year-old son, Tam, in Bangkok. After John tells Chris that Kim is alive and has been raising Chris’ son, Chris and Ellen travel to Asia. Kim learns that Chris is in Bangkok with his new wife. She is desperate for her son to have a future in America and will do whatever it takes to make this dream a reality.
Photos by Matt Polk
Top: Brian Noonan and Ma-Anne Dionisio
Right: Ma-Anne Dionisio and Kevin Gray.
1991 Tony® Awards
11 Nominations, 3 Wins
Best Musical (Nominee)
Best Book of a Musical (Nominee)
Best Original Score (Nominee)
Best Actor in a Musical (Winner)
Best Actress in a Musical (Winner)
Best Featured Actor in a Musical
(Winner and additional Nominee)
Best Scenic Design (Nominee)
Best Lighting Design (Nominee)
Best Choreography (Nominee)
Best Direction of a Musical (Nominee)
1991 Drama Desk Awards
4 Nominations, 4 Wins
Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Winner)
Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Winner)
Outstanding Orchestration (Winner)
Outstanding Lighting Design (Winner)
1. Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil were also the creators of another musical theater hit, Les Misérables, which Pittsburgh CLO produced for the first time in 2009.
2. Miss Saigon is a modern adaptation of Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, and similarly tells the tragic tale of a romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover. The musical’s inspiration was reportedly a photograph, inadvertently found by Schönberg in a magazine. The photo showed a Vietnamese mother leaving her child at a departure gate to board a plane headed for the United States where her father, an ex-GI, would be in a position to provide a better life. Schönberg considered this mother’s actions to be “the ultimate sacrifice,” and central to the plot of Miss Saigon.
3. The original Miss Saigon is one of the most spectacular and technically complex productions ever staged. More than 260 people worked the London production at each performance and only 47 actually appeared in front of the audience.
4. Miss Saigon is the 10th longest-running Broadway musical. Its 4,082 performances spanned nearly a decade, from April 1991 to January 2001.
5. In the fall of 2009, “Variety” reported that Hollywood producer Paula Wagner and Cameron Mackintosh were developing a film version of Miss Saigon. Director Lee Daniels, who recently earned an Oscar® nomination for the film “Precious,” is considered the front-runner to direct. A screenwriter is currently being sought-out, with the hope of a 2011 release.
6. Lea Salonga played Kim in the original London production. She also sang the part of Jasmine in “A Whole New World” as part of the soundtrack for the Walt Disney animated hit “Aladdin.”
7. Jonathan Pryce, who won a Tony® for his role as the Engineer, also starred as Fagin in the 1994 London revival of Oliver!
The Heat is on in Saigon
The Movie in My Mind
Why God Why?
Sun and Moon
The Last Night of the World
Hi Chi Min City
The Morning of the Dragon
I Still Believe
Back in Town
You Will Not Touch Him
If You Want to Die in Bed
I'd Give My Life for You
What a Waste
The Guilt Inside Your Head (The Fall of Saigon, April 1975)
Sun and Moon (Reprise)
Now That I've Seen Her
The American Dream
Little God of My Heart
Miss Saigon - Original London Cast Olivier Awards 1990