Wednesday, April 18, 2012
|Jacqueline Nguyen (down center) and the ensemble of Miss Saigon.|
Photos by Michael Lamont
The first image you see in La Mirada Theatre’s production of Miss Saigon is that of a young Vietnamese girl standing alone in a spotlight, eyes raised to the sky. Suddenly there’s a whirlwind of confusion, shouts and activity all around her, yet she doesn’t move, doesn’t say a word. She just stands there…and the frozen look in her eyes tells you all need to know. The moment is so simple and so effective that it immediately draws you in.
|Jacqueline Nguyen and Kevin Odekirk|
Joseph Anthony Foronda is terrific as the opportunistic Engineer, always ready with a new scheme to reach the golden shores of America and his own “American Dream.” That slick bit of staging (complete with a sparkling cotton candy pink Cadillac) and his hard-driving “If You Want To Die In Bed,” are showstoppers, with Foronda strutting around the stage sporting an unapologetic ear-to-ear grin and buckets of charisma.
One of the most affecting subjects Miss Saigon deals with is that of the Bui Doi, the abandoned children of American fathers and Vietnamese mothers left behind after the war. “They are the living reminders of all the good we failed to do” admonish the lyrics of the song that carries their name. Phenomenally sung by Lawrence Cummings – really, let’s just dub him “the voice” – it is one of the most powerful songs in the show.
Dana Solimando’s choreography is vivid and gritty and the ensemble attacks it with gusto, with or without most of their clothes. An especially dramatic sequence is the street parade, “The Morning of the Dragon,” in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon’s new name) that observes the anniversary of North Vietnam’s victory over the Americans. Steven Young’s equally dramatic lighting and Mela Hoyt-Heydon’s striking costumes also lend great theatricality to the look and feel of the show.
By the way, if you've never read past the actors’ bios in the program do yourself a favor and read scenic designer Dustin J. Cardwell’s comments. With his kind of perspective on designing for the theatre, it’s no wonder that the work realized on stage is done with such care and consideration. It says a great deal about the quality of everyone involved in bringing director Brian Kite’s vision to life and what they’ve achieved with this Miss Saigon is rich and passionate, firing a direct hit to your heart.
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment's Miss Saigon runs through May 6. For tickets and information go to www.lamiradatheatre.com.
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Labels: la mirada theatre
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