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re: MISS SAIGON, Mackintosh, Pryce, and Briones
Last Edit: WaymanWong 12:54 pm EDT 04/20/24
Posted by: WaymanWong 12:36 pm EDT 04/20/24
In reply to: MISS SAIGON, Mackintosh, Pryce, and Briones - BroadwayTonyJ 10:52 am EDT 04/20/24

You're very knowledgeable, but with all due respect, I have to call out the B.S. ... I don't doubt that Mackintosh wanted to cast Pryce as the Engineer: whether it's because he genuinely felt he was the best actor for the job, or felt he needed Pryce's name to help sell tickets and protect the show, or both, etc. But let's not forget the time, too: 1989. When being sensitive to diversity wasn't on everyone's minds. In that original London production, Pryce wore prosthetics to make his eyes look more ''slanted,'' and Thuy, the Vietnamese villain in ''Miss Saigon,'' was played by a Caucasian.

More importantly, let's remember that Mackintosh and his casting director, Vinny Liff, defended the casting of Pryce, in part, by claiming that they had made a worldwide search to find an Asian actor to play the Engineer, but not ONE could be found. And certainly not an Asian male star. Which is a Catch-22. If Asian men aren't cast in leading roles, how do you get Asian male stars? ... Meantime, the casting controversy became a pissing match, and Mackintosh wasn't about to back down and have any Actors Equity tell him how to cast his show. After the protests and Mackintosh's threat to pull the show from Broadway, Equity eventually approved Pryce. And it was only then that ''Miss Saigon'' reluctantly admitted that there had been some ''misunderstanding.'' No worldwide search was ever made for an Asian actor to play the Engineer. It was, as Equity suspected all along: Mackintosh was set on Pryce and had no interest in an Asian alternative. Meantime, was it really necessary for Mackintosh & Co. to slander the talents of Asian male actors all over the world? As you note, the Engineer, since Pryce, has been exclusively played by Asian and Asian-American actors, so clearly the talent exists, so that was always a lie. Just as ''Miss Saigon'' turned an unknown Asian actress, like Lea Salonga, into a Tony-winning star, I submit that Asian men were robbed of the same chance: Some unknown Asian man could've become a Tony-winning star, too. Do you know how rare those roles are?
I contend that the original ''Miss Saigon'' could've been a hit with TWO Asian stars. Anyway, wasn't the helicopter getting the biggest buzz? ;)

It would take the 25th anniversary of the London ''Miss Saigon'' revival for Mackintosh to finally acknowledge that he has regrets about how he handled the original Broadway show. He now concedes that those fighting for an Asian actor to play the Engineer had a valid point.

I've posted about why I think Briones got passed over by the Tonys, even tho' he was nominated for an Olivier and Drama Desk, so I won't rehash that.

But if you really think Asian actors are on a level playing field and have had equal opportunities at the Tonys, I've got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.
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