Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The popular Miss Saigon has hit D.C. once again. Currently playing at Warner Theatre, the show parallels Madame Butterfly but is set in Vietnam. Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg of Les Misérables fame teamed up with Richard Maltby, Jr. to create a musical filled with soaring ballads and up-tempo tunes.
Miss Saigon tells the story of a young and inexperienced Vietnamese girl named Kim. After losing her parents during a violent attack, she finds herself employed by a seedy flesh merchant called The Engineer. She meets Chris, an American soldier, her first night on the job. What ensues is a passionate love affair that ends in tragedy.
For the most part, this production is very well done. The principles are all quite good and the cast as a whole moves well. However, there are some weak spots. The night this reviewer attended there were some microphone problems. At times it was difficult to hear the actors. Additionally, the ensemble was not at their best vocally.
Jennifer Paz makes a lovely Kim. She sings beautifully and displays a vulnerability that is so important in this character. As Chris, Alan Gillespie displays a nice balance in his portrayal of an earnest young serviceman who is knocked to his knees by love. The Engineer is played by Johann Michael Camat. Mr. Camat is a delight. He chews the scenery with gusto with no apologies. It is an energetic performance that ends up being a crowd pleaser. Both D.J. Oliver (John) and Rachel Kopf (Ellen) have some fine moments as well.
The show itself is wonderful to look at. Andreane Neofitou's costumes serve the show well and Adrian Vaux's sets work as very successful backdrops. Additionally, Lighting Designer Charlie Morrison and Sound Designer Lucas J. Corrubia, Jr. should be congratulated on their realistic contributions.
Although, technically and vocally this production is not perfect, these problems do not lessen the poignancy of the material. The core of the show is still there. Be warned that Miss Saigon won't be in town for long. It ends its stay in DC on November 14th.
The Warner Theatre
Cast: Johann Michael Camat, Jennifer Paz, Alan Gillespie, Laurie Cadevida, D. J. Oliver, Tadeo, Rachel Kopf, Ramona Dubarry, Kayla Santana, Jonathan Wade, Katie Boren, Dustin Brayley, Michael J. Bulatao, Eymard Meneses Cabling, Gary Castaneda, Jay A. Donnell, Jr., James Keiff Dubeq, Elisa Louanna Factora, Omi Fernandez, Michael Jones, Brian A. Jose, J. Michael Kinsey, Li Jun Li, Danny McNie, Henry O'Neill, Anthony Ong, Yuki Ozeki, Giovanni Perez, Alex Rodriguez, Yvonne Same, Chris Semidey, Dane Stokinger, Catrina Teruel, Manuel D. Tuason