Miss Saigon Review

Why did I want to see Miss Saigon? Wanting to see Miss Saigon comes from Les Mis. I discovered Miss Saigon through Les Mis. When I heard that those who wrote the music to Miss Saigon wrote the music to Les Mis, I knew I eventually wanted to watch Miss Saigon. I had no idea if I never would see Miss Saigon- it felt like it hadn’t been on tour for a very long time. During Charlotte’s 2018-2019 season, I discovered Miss Saigon was coming. It was the main musical I wanted to see- tickets to see Miss Saigon with my mom and dad were in my stocking at Christmas. I was excited that I was going to see it. Miss Saigon is a tragic love story. So glad Les Mis taught me that I can love tragedies.

My Cast:

  • Engineer- Eymard Cabling
  • Kim- Emily Bautista
  • Chris- Anthony Festa
  • Gigi- Christine Bunuan
  • John- J. Daughtry
  • Ellen- Stacie Bono
  • Thuy- Jinwoo Jung
  • Tam- Jace Chen

In the last days of the Vietnam War, 17-year-old Kim is forced to work in a bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American G.I. named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon.

-Blumenthal Performing Arts

Major or Minor Spoilers:

Eymard Cabling showed out the villainous side of the Engineer perfectly. You can clearly see it in the beginning of the musical to the end. He does give you a laugh from time to time. I loved how I had that laugh- it was needed.

Emily Bautista’s Kim was both a victim and a fighter. I saw her Kim both ways. In the beginning, her Kim was more of a victim. I almost cried during “Movie in the Mind”- that song was shared with Christine Bunuan’s Gigi. It showed both of them as victims. Emily’s Kim had this vulnerable side of things. She had incredible chemistry with Anthony’s Festa’s Chris- I felt like they were in love- I wanted them to stay together even know I knew it wasn’t to be. I was emotionally connected to her Kim- I could see a strength in Kim. She was a fighter when it came to her son, Tam- that was admirable in so many ways. She wanted him to have a better life.

As I said with Emily Bautista, Anthony Festa’s Chris had incredible chemistry with her. Their chemistry made me want them to stay together- I did not want it to end to in tragic circumstances. “Sun and Moon” made me cry- I was not expecting that during that song. His vocals were incredible- you first noticed it during “Why God Why”. Tragic love stories are tough- if you have two actors like Anthony and Emily who feel like they are in love, you want them to stay together- you don’t want it to be tragic.

J. Daughtry’s John truly didn’t shine until Bui Doi. He was just perfect during that number. The hardest thing about Stacie Bono as Ellen is having you feel anything for her- the problem had to do with Emily and Anthony. I struggled with Ellen. I loved Kim and Chris as a couple- Emily and Anthony being the Kim and Chris that they are, it made it difficult to get into Stacie’s Ellen.

The staging was incredible to watch. Yes, at times, it can be difficult to watch- it was the emotional connection to Kim and Chris that kept me going. I loved some of the spectacle and dance I saw in some of the scenes. One moment made me wish I was in another section of the theatre- there was a scene with lights pointing directly at you that you had to block out the brightest lights to see what was going on. It made me uncomfortable- don’t know if that was the scene’s intention- to make you feel uncomfortable or was it the seat I was in?

In terms of the songs- I did cry at times, which I had a feeling it would knowing how Les Mis affected me. “Movie in my Mind” almost made me cry, “Sun and Moon”/ “Last Night of the World”/ “I’d Give My Life For You” all made me cry. I did not think the song that “Sun and Moon” would me cry, but it did- it does tell me just how incredible Anthony and Emily were- it made me want their romance to work out despite knowing it was going to be tragic. The ending did satisfy me- tragic love stories are rough in the ending due to how it turns out, but they still need to be satisfying. SPOILER: At the end of the musical, Kim sacrificed herself to give Tam a better life. Chris saw this, and ran to Kim. She ended up dying in Chris’ arms- I believe at the end, Chris realized that he still was in love with Kim- based on his reaction at the end of this scene.

I did feel heartbroken, terrified, love, joy and uncomfortable watching Miss Saigon.

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Examples of Emotional Musicals

I have known musicals are emotional since middle school. Wicked was the reasoning behind this. Wicked told me about four core emotions, which were excitement, love, joy, and sad. The emotional musicals are the ones that I tend to be drawn to the most. What exactly makes an emotional musical?

The emotional musicals tend to have a score that has BOTH positive and negative emotions. When I say negative emotions, I mean strong enough to create a response- not mild. Not all sad songs are heartbreaking, but all heartbreaking songs are sad. Now I will talk about some of the examples of the musicals I call emotional.

Major and Minor Spoilers:

Newsies

For a lot of act I, Newsies does not seem to fit under emotional musicals. The songs already are catchy and exciting. The only kind of emotional song that comes to mind already are “Santa Fe (Prologue)”, but that song is hopeful- however I believe that song and “Something to Believe In” does play their part in Newsies being emotional. So why is Newsies emotional? Look right after “Seize the Day?”

"Something to Believe In" in Newsies

This big fight breaks out. Jack, the leader of the strike, witnesses all of this. This upsets him a great deal, but hurts him the most when he sees Crutchie being arrested. All of this shows that Jack cares a lot about the strike. If you remember Jack and Crutchie share quite an intimate bond- that is shown in the first song. All of this leads into “Santa Fe”, which is a sad song. So that song does make Newsies an emotional song.

"Santa Fe" in Newsies

There is a 2nd moment in Newsies that makes it an emotional musical. Crutchie has a solo that was added when the musical was launched as a tour. Crutchie is one of the principal actors. The song, “Letter From the Refuge”, was added, and that song is heartbreaking. So those two songs make Newsies an emotional musical.

"Letter from the Refuge" in Newsies

Beauty and the Beast

This musical, like Newsies, is a Disney musical. This musical is a romance- so ALL the romantic songs are emotional. From “Something There” to “Beauty and the Beast”- those help make the musical emotional. Beauty and the Beast still has their heartbreaking songs- in the stage show, “home” is one of the more emotional songs and so is the heartbreaking “If I Can’t Love Her” and “If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)”. All of those songs combined are why Beauty and the Beast is emotional.

Lion King

This is yet another Disney musical that is emotional. After all, the emotional nature of the show starts after Scar kills his brother. That was when the storyline kicked off. Seeing the effect it has on Young Simba is heartbreaking (before he runs away). Mufasa’s death almost made me cry last year when I saw Lion King. Lion King is home to songs such as “Shadowland” and “Endless Night”. Even the romantic “Can You Fell the Love Tonight” plays a part in the emotional nature of Lion King. So Disney does do a good job on making a musical emotional at times.

Wicked

Wicked is for sure a musical with a lot of comic moments. It still has a serious side to it. Its’ center core is the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. At the same time, it has a love triangle between Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero. There are songs such as the heartbreaking “I’m Not That Girl” and bittersweet “For Good”. “For Good” is the most emotional song of the musical. “No Good Deed” shows negative emotions as well- which took 9 and 1/2 years for me to notice any sort of emotions in it. One of its more major topics is discrimination- but each time I keep on focusing much more on the friendship and the love triangle that I keep on not exploring the more serious side of Wicked.

South Pacific

South Pacific is a romance that is a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. That would mean one couple is more light-hearted than the other. Romance musicals have multiple emotional moments. Emelie does sing the heartbreaking “This Nearly Was Mine”. Once you see South Pacific, “Younger Than Springtime” does become almost more emotional- that is the song that focuses on List and Joe Cable- that couple is actually tragic. One of South Pacific’s major topics it focuses on is racism.

Rent

Rent is a sad musical, so it obviously is an emotional musical. It takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It talks about how to live life in the time you have. Rent is one of those musicals that can make me an emotional wreck- songs like “Will I”, “Your Eyes”, and “Without You” are moments that usually get to me.

Les Mis

Les Mis is even more tragic than Rent. Les Mis feels like you are hit with tragedy after tragedy after tragedy- it is like the tragic events never stop. At the same time, there is this beautiful underlying spirituality. Compassion is shown at death scenes, hope is shown when something tragic does happen, and so on. I am truly an emotional wreck at Les Mis.



What are some of the emotional musicals you love?


Before the Curtain Goes up…What happens

While yesterday talks about happens when the curtain goes down, today will do the complete opposite. This is still coming from the point of view from a theatre goer.

This all starts to happen a few months or so in advance. This sounds crazy that I say that. If you know you are seeing a musical ahead of time, you do get excited. It is hard for that day. You do get impatient. You still are excited. Then the day comes, and the excitement is the strongest. You start to get ready, and you know for sure you are seeing the musical. Sometimes you know you are going to love it (that is especially true if you already love the musical (sometimes you know if you never saw it) and sometimes you never know.

You arrive at the theatre, and that excitement starts to build up even more. Then you are impatient- after all you could have arrived thirty minutes early. However, you want to be there early- but it means waiting a while till the show begins. The hardest moment of waiting is in the theatre itself- especially when you have sat down. You have already received your playbill – so all you have to do is look at the playbill, and get that picture. You sometimes already have if there was a picture station out in the lobby. You end getting that picture on social media. You see the stage and part of the set. This basically short period of time feels like one hour or so- you are like start the show already.

So basically before the show, there are feelings of excitement and impatience.

How do you feel before the curtain goes up?

After the Curtain Falls…What Happens

This is something I never touched on my blog. What happens when the curtain falls? What happens long after the curtain falls? I speak from the point of view of an audience member.

The first thing that happens when the curtain falls is reflect on what happened during the performance. I am the one who likes to reflect on the show. I want to be able to remember the show- but there have been experiences where I did not like the musical. If I am seeing the musical again, I end up adding something to the character- if the actors and actresses were able to. I like to talk about the performance that same day- that is what happens after the curtain falls automatically.

If it is a new musical, I usually know if I love the musical. When the curtain falls in that instance, I am glad I have found a new musical I love. I still reflect on what I saw. The review does end up on this blog- I have to remember what I saw- enough to end up as a review. If I love the musical- I do want to be able to remember their stories, their songs, and the characters.

What happens in the future? For me, in the meaningful musicals, the characters live in me. They become a piece of me. Long after the curtain falls, their stories mean something. Their songs are no longer songs- they are songs that mean something when you listen to them. You want to learn about them. When they live in you, it means you care about them and have an emotional connection. There are characters that have been in my life since childhood and characters that are much newer.

After the curtain falls, a musical that is already meaningful can become more meaningful. You might feel more emotional and vulnerable that time around. The actors and actresses play a huge part in what happens long after the curtain calls- some of them play a small part in who characters are and some play a huge part in who characters are.

After the curtain falls, you remember seeing the musical. That is true even if you didn’t like the musical. There have been musicals I didn’t like where I do form some emotional connection and loved a few songs.

Just because the curtain falls, it doesn’t mean your journey with the musical ends. The meaningful musicals continue to be in my life. The memories I have with them and why they made the impact are reasons why they are meaningful. Long after the curtain falls, you can still remember the experience of that one performance- who you were with and who your standouts were and parts of the staging.

Favorite Musical Theatre Couples and Why

Major or Minor Spoilers:

Elphaba and Fiyero

They are what I would call the “unexpected couple”. You never expect them to get together. When Elphaba first meets him, she can’t stand him. He doesn’t make a good impression at first. Then the Lion Cub Scene happens, and he softens up a bit. You discover that she is starting to fall in love with him, but unrequitedly- you feel like he will always be with Glinda. Then he hears all of these rumors spread about Elphaba and knows they are not true. He realizes that he loves Elphaba instead of Glinda- so now the unrequited love shifts to Glinda.

Elphaba and Fiyero may be a young couple, but they are a mature couple. It clearly shows during “As Long as Your’e Mine”. They do protect each other- after all he protects Elphaba from being arrested, which leads him to possibly being tortured, which leads Elphaba to do spell after spell after spell to protect Fiyero.

Elphaba and Fiyero during "As Long as Your'e Mine"

Belle and Beast

This musical is actually a romance. The Beast is actually a human transformed into a Beast after an enchantress discovered there is no love in his heart. So she transformed him into a heart. The spell would be broken if he will fall in love and will be loved another. The love also affected those who lived in the castles.

Belle became prisoner in Beast’s castle after taking her father’s place. First Belle despised the Beast. She saw how unkind and how selfish he was. After she ran away after Beast scared her for being in the West End, Beast began to soften up. He ended up saving her life, but he still had a hard time controlling his temper. Slowly over time, they began to have feelings for each other (“Something There”). Then at “Beauty and the Beast”, you knew they were in love. The whole “Beauty and the Beast” scene is so magical to look at. I don’t know what it is about Disney love songs- there is something magical about them. Beast was willing to let her go- Belle and Beast protected each other. After all, when Belle realized Gaston was going to hurt the Beast, she wanted to hurt him and when Belle came back, Beast fought Gaston in order to protect Belle. Their love for each other caused the spell to be broken.

Dan Stevens as Beast and Emma Watson as Belle during the 2017 live film of Beauty and the Beast during the song, Beauty and the Beast

Cosette and Marius

Amanda Seyfried as Cosette and Eddie Redmayne as Marius in the musical film, Les Misérables

One of the things I love about these two is how they bring hope to this tragedy. Cosette represents love and hope- so it makes sense why she and Marius ends up together. These two are some of the only survivors in Les Mis. While they have lost so many important people in their lives in the end, at least they still have each other. They are such an adorable couple in so many ways.

Katherine and Jack

This is another Disney couple that I love. They are my favorite contemporary Disney couple. Even the song, “Something to Believe In” carries the same magic that the classic Disney songs have. Katherine is the reporter of the strike and Jack is the Newsies’ leader. She does help him with the inner conflict he is going through in act II. Their love clearly shows during “Something to Believe In”

Katherine and Jack during "Something to Believe In" during Newsies

Christine and Raoul

Before the events in the story begin, they once upon a time were childhood sweethearts. When Raoul first recognized Christine, he wanted to be in relationship with her. Raoul is the one who would protect Christine no matter what. After hearing from her about the Phantom, he would do anything to protect her. I have always loved them- “All I Ask Of You” is one of the biggest reasons that explains it.

Christine and Raoul during "All I Ask of You"

Mimi and Roger

They are one of the hardest couples to explain why I love them. There are three couples in Rent, and Mimi and Roger are the main couple. They do connect in “Light in my Candle”, but do not become a couple until “I Should Tell You”. It takes about a lot of act I to become a couple. Roger is the one who is unwilling to get in a relationship while Mimi wants to. Both of them have HIV. These two struggle in their relationship at times and do fight at times- they still love each other despite the problems. I wish I knew further why I love them; I think a lot of it comes from them being realistic and their songs.

Mimi and Roger during "Light my Candle" in Rent

Conclusion

These are just a few of my favorite couples. All of them share a few things in common. They all are young couples, and they all have a main song that I am attached to. The main song is a key element to loving a musical theatre couple. A couple’s main song does show you that those characters have fallen in love. Usually it can be hard to tell if they have fallen in love or not- which is definitely true if the musical is not a romance.

How songs make You love a Couple in a Musical

Romance is the most common theme in musical. It shows up in many ways and serves many purposes. In some ways, it takes up the entire plot, in some it is a subplot that is a couple, and some it is a subplot that is a love triangle. You might think it is just a love triangle that is complex, but sometimes a couple alone that is complex. What makes you love a couple? One of the best ways to love a couple belongs to their song or songs (I said song or songs because some couples have multiple songs- after all, some plots are a romance). I will try my best to explain why songs can help make you fell in love with a couple.

If you don’t have the song, it is nearly impossible to realize there is a couple. In a romance, the first song does make you pick up on the fact that they are developing feeling feelings for each other (“Something There” for instance). Then after afterwards, there is usually a song, there is usually a song that tells you that they in love (“Beauty and the Beast” for example. The songs are key to helping you realize there is a couple in a realize, or else, you fight not pick up on romance.

A lot of times, if I love a couple’s main song, I end up loving the couple. I love songs such as “Heart Full of Love”, “All I Ask of You”, “Can you Feel the Love Tonight”, “Something to Believe In”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “As Long As Your’e Mine”, “Till There Was Mine”, “I Should Tell You”- etc. These songs were all key to helping me love these couples.

Major Spoilers:

In the love triangles- it is key to fall in love with the couples. Once you realize why the love triangles are set up the way they are, you learn to love them more. Songs such as “Heart Full of Love”, All I Ask of You”, and “As Long As Your’e” do make me love the couple. “As Long as Your’e Mine” is the most interesting song since it is ironic since Elphaba originally had unrequited love for Fiyero.

All of the romantic songs are beautiful songs. I find it interesting how romance comes mostly comes from young couples. So the songs make you realize that two characters have fallen in love- you easily could have missed that if you didn’t have the song.

My Journey with the Les Mis Movie

As many musical fanatics know, there is always a way you become a fan of a musical. It is either by songs, stage, or film. Where did my love of Les Mis begin? It was by the musical movie.

I first saw the Les Mis film in December 2012. I came into the film with a very slim knowledge. I knew of the song, “I Dreamed a Dream”. I barely knew the plot. I knew of the actresses, Amanda Seyfried and Anne Hathaway. I was unsure coming into the film- I only went to listen to “I Dreamed a Dream”. Right after Fantine died, I came to a realization- Les Mis is a tragedy. I was shocked and confused after realizing that. After all, I never knew musicals could be tragic. I did not know how to exactly respond. By the end of the film, I did have “Do you Hear the People Sing” stuck in my head, but at the same time, I did not know if I liked Les Mis. So I had a rocky start to Les Mis. I was NOT an emotional wreck watching Les Mis this time around.

Fantine singing "I Dreamed a Dream" during the film, Les Mis

Despite not knowing if I liked Les Mis, I started researching the musical. I also wanted to listen to the songs on Pandora. I have no idea why I wanted to do that.

March 2013- I don’t why I did this, but I decided to watch the film a 2nd time. Due to knowing the film’s tragic nature, I was able to calm down. I got so much more out of it. This time around, I truly became a fan of Les Mis. By the end, I felt uplifted. I was thinking “why would such a tragic musical make you feel uplifted?”. So I continued researching it. By Summer 2013, I was officially obsessed with Les Mis. I know the 2nd time was when I began to have a beautiful bond to Eponine; I have no idea when I began to have an emotional connection to the other characters I have an emotional connection to. If I didn’t give the film a 2nd chance, I never would have a Les Mis fan.

Eponine singing "On My Own" during the film, Les Mis

Summer 2013- I think my family was on vacation in Florida, and we were in target in the DVD section. My mom told me, will you find it? I did not know what she was talking about at first. She told me- you know what I am talking about. I realized- my mom was talking about Les Mis. My emotional response to the film grew over time.

Present- now it is 2019, and I have watched the film so many times. Now, I have to buy another copy of the film. Usually in that amount of time, I don’t wear out a DVD. I still am an emotional wreck watching it. This film was why I love Les Mis, which led to my obsession with Les Mis. Without the film, Les Mis wouldn’t have been in my life.