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The heat is back on in Miss Saigon, as a revival of the blockbuster Broadway musical officially opened on Thursday night.
“It’s still so universal and timeless because the plot and themes, both main and underlying, are so relevant and current right now,” Eva Noblezada, who stars as the love story’s Vietnamese bar girl Kim, told The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s lavish opening-night bash. “Normally, people think when they go to a theater, they’re gonna see a light show with a tap number — ha! No, not when you see Miss Saigon. But people want to leave the theater feeling changed, and that’s what we’re there to do.”
Opening night at the Broadway Theatre — the musical’s original New York home — was peppered with elongated applause after numerous numbers, but the moment that undoubtedly gathered the most laughs and claps was a new reference to Donald Trump. It occurs just after Jon Jon Briones’ sleazy Engineer performs “The American Dream,” the splashy showstopper that illustrates the tawdry flipside of the capitalist fantasy, complete with feathered showgirls, slick male dancers and a massive gold Statue of Liberty head that literally spits out a Cadillac, which the Engineer proceeds to mount.
“Hey, where are you going?” Briones shouts while the ensemble clears the stage. “We can make it great again!”
That reference to the U.S. president’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” was added to the West End transfer just before previews began, upon discussion with director Laurence Connor. “The first time I said it, the reaction was really loud — it was hard to get back into the scene again,” recalled Briones, who has played the Engineer in productions of Miss Saigon worldwide.
Though audiences latch onto various asides, depending on their location (Briones said the lyric “Men will always be men” always gets a huge laugh in Asia, unlike on Broadway), the show’s central message continues to resonate. “It’s about people wanting to belong somewhere — everyone can relate to that,” said Briones. “And, unfortunately, we still have wars. We haven’t learned our lesson. But out of the ugliness can come beautiful things.”
Miss Saigon is playing a limited engagement at the Broadway Theatre through January 2018.
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