The “Happy Birthday, MISS SAIGON” Quiz

Simon Bowman and Lea Salonga in the original production of MISS SAIGON

Simon Bowman and Lea Salonga in the original production of MISS SAIGON

Today in 1989, Miss Saigon had its world premiere in London. Here’s a little quiz to celebrate. I’ve answered the questions in the body of this body, and I’ve love to see yours in the comments! Feel free to copy and paste the questions if you need to.

1. What do you like about this show? Or, if you’re not a fan, what makes it unmemorable for you? I’ve always liked Miss Saigon. I really love the epic feel of it, the sweeping melodrama, the romance at the core of it all. I think it’s all just wonderful. But you have to buy into it at the start – or you never will.

2. Pick your favourite song in the show and tell us why it’s your favourite? “I’d Give My Life for You”. I think the song is simple and direct, a moment where I think you see exactly who Kim is. I think it might be melodramatic and over-the-top in something a little drier, but I think it’s perfect for the kind of musical that Miss Saigon is.

What is your favourite song in Miss Saigon? Easy. “I’d Give My Life for You” is one of the things that really makes Miss Saigon so effective as an emotional experience: it is a beautiful character piece married to a haunting melody. I cannot believe it has not appeared on more favourite lists in this thread

3. What is your favourite lyric? I really like “Sun and Moon”, particularly the line ‘How in the light of one night did we come so far?’ I also really like the verses in “It’s Her or Me”/”Now That I’ve Seen Her”. But see below for more on this….

Jonathan Pryce and Lea Salonga in the original production of MISS SAIGON

Jonathan Pryce and Lea Salonga in the original production of MISS SAIGON

4. Got a number you just can’t stand? Tell us why. Where Miss Saigon falls down for me is in the details. There’s not a number as a whole that I can’t stand, but there are lyrics that just don’t work. My least favourite by a long shot was “What is this bug up my ass? You tell me, I don’t know”. Thankfully, that one’s been replaced in the years since the show’s premiere in London. One of the changes I dislike is the rewritten opening of the chorus for “It’s Her or Me”, which became “Now That I’ve Seen Her”. I understand the thinking behind the change, but the change itself is sloppy and doesn’t match the musical phrases of the song.

5. Who’s your favorite character? Kim. I think it’s a fantastic role.

6. Who is your favourite Miss Saigon-related performer? Lea Salonga.

7. Got a favourite production or cast recording? What makes it so special? Nope. But I reckon that anyone who got to see Lea Salonga in the role got to see something pretty special.

8. What do you think of the show as an adaptation of Madama Butterfly? I think it works and I think it works better. The characters are less one-note than in Madama Butterfly. Kim, as I’ve said, I think is fantastically written. Chris is a huge improvement on Pinkerton, a character that holds little appeal and who deserves no sympathy. And I like the other shifts too – Suzuki’s transformation into Mimi, Goro’s retooling as the Engineer, Prince Yamadori’s now politically motivated Thuy. Also, the building up of the Kate Pinkerton role into Ellen gives the piece an added dimension. And the context given to the piece of the war in Viet-Nam works perfectly. Character, situation and narrative come together really well in this adaptation.

Simon Bowman and Lea Salonga as Chris and Kim in the original production of MISS SAIGON

Simon Bowman and Lea Salonga as Chris and Kim in the original production of MISS SAIGON

9. A film…. What would you like to see if one was made? I’d love to see a film. I think the only way to cast Kim would be to go the same route that the producers went to find Lea Salonga – to look for a complete unknown who has what it takes to hold the film together. In terms of the screenplay, I’d like to see the fall of Saigon restored to it’s chronological place in the action. Without the act divisions, I think the second act material is strong enough to carry a film through to the ending. And I would like to see “The Sacred Bird” restored. And I think a big budget Hollywood epic would be the only way to do. With Miss Saigon, it has to be all or nothing.

So there you go! Scroll down and send us your answers. Happy birthday, Miss Saigon!

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