Friday, September 21, the national tour of Miss Saigon launched at the Providence Performing Arts Center, kicking off the theater’s 90th anniversary season. This musical by Cameron Mackintosh tells the story of Kim, a young Vietnamese woman and Chris, an American G.I. and follows their story as they fall in love as Saigon is falling. The gorgeous score is filled with powerful songs and classic Broadway hits, and the set design never ceases to surprise theater goers.
The cast and crew of the production have been in Providence for weeks, building the set and going through final rehearsals. On opening night, we were invited for a peek backstage to meet three of the stars of this new production. Emily Bautista (Kim), Anthony Festa (Chris), and Red Concepción (The Engineer).
In preparation for portraying Kim and Chris, the actors immersed themselves in movies and documentaries about the Vietnam War, to learn as much as possible about Vietnam and this piece of its history. Bautista, who recently was cast on Broadway as the understudy for Kim, spoke of how real the show sounds. “The audience can hear the sounds of Vietnam, it feels like you’re there.” The telling of this story is one that will always be relevant. Though set in a different country and a different war, the story of Miss Saigon is one that is still feels relevant to news happening today in other parts of the world. Bautista reflected, “at its core, it’s about love. In broken places, there is still love.” That was true of Vietnam in the 60s and 70s, and is true now for people fleeing war torn regions.
As a teen who fell in love with this soundtrack, Festa was excited to be launching this new tour and shared, “This show is why I went into musical theater. This story brought me here, to this stage.” Red Concepción, in the role of the Engineer, had a similar feeling. Growing up in the Philippines, the son of actors, the music of Miss Saigon often filled his home. To play this role now is nothing short of “a dream come true” for him. Concepción recently finished Miss Saigon’s UK tour and is energized to bring this role and this show to an American audience.
Miss Saigon continues at PPAC through Sunday, September 30. Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the box office.
Make a night of it in downtown Providence by dining at one of the many nearby restaurants. Visit our online directory for a full listing of restaurants in the neighborhood.