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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Waukesha Civic Theatre Recreates 'Miss Saigon'

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The Waukesha Civic Theatre has ambitiously set out to recreate the Broadway classic Miss Saigon—scene by scene, song for song. It's no small feat. Miss Saigon is one of Broadway's longest-running musicals ever—and for good reason. The epic Vietnam War period piece has complex characters, drama and depth in a perfectly woven plot with not one but two love triangles.

Waukesha Civic Theatre has spared no expense. Fantastic costumes designed by Sharon Sohner dot every scene. The set, designed and created by A.J. Simon, is a wonder unto itself—all steel girders, wood slat shards, bamboo and straw, chain link and netting. It is built to flex, adapt and adjust for a wide variety of scenes: brothels and offices, Bangkok streets and refugee camps, communist parades, even helicopter escapes and telephone conversations.

Recreating a classic on the scale of Miss Saigon is a tall task. More than 30 musical numbers comprise the two-and-a-half-hour show. But even with a young cast, director Mark E. Schuster stays the ambitious course, determined to sing each and every line.

As with the Vietnam War, some poor souls don't make it. But those that do, shine. Notably: Karissa Lade as Kim (Miss Saigon herself) and Evan Huang as Thuy (her betrothed love). The former has the voice to carry the heavy load. The latter brings the passion, intensity, fervor and fire to make it all real. Huang is one of but a handful of Asians in the cast. Ironically, though, Wisconsin is home to many Southeast Asians who relocated following the Vietnam War. Reaching a few miles east to grab a few Hmongs (and a black soldier or two?) would have gone a long way toward authenticating the effort.

Waukesha Civic Theatre's Miss Saigon continues through May 20. For ticket reservations, call 262-547-0708.
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