Miss Saigon

By Jerilyn WatsonSince Nineteen-Ninety-One, millions of people have seen the musical play "Miss Saigon" on Broadway in New York City. Now its final performance will be January Twenty-Eighth. I'm Sarah Long.And I'm Shirley Griffith. The musical "Miss Saigon" is our report today on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

((CUT ONE: MUSIC FROM THE OVERTURE TO "MISS SAIGON" INSTEAD OF THEME))The musical play "Miss Saigon" recently made theater history. It had its four-thousandth performance on Broadway. Only five other Broadway productions have ever had this many performances.

"Miss Saigon" opened at the Broadway Theatre on April Eleventh, Nineteen-Ninety-One. Since that day more than six-million people have seen the show.

The last Broadway performance of "Miss Saigon" had been planned for this month. But public demand caused the show to be extended until the end of next month.More than one-hundred-fifty actors have appeared in "Miss Saigon" during its nine years on Broadway. Lea Salonga was the first to appear in the leading female part of Kim. She is one of three actors who received the top Broadway Tony award for her work in the show. Ms. Salonga will be returning later this month to appear in the show's final performances."Miss Saigon" also received a Tony award for best musical.

Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and Richard Maltby Junior wrote the music and words. Cameron Mackintosh produced the show. Critics praised the story and music of "Miss Saigon" as both beautiful and emotional.

The special effects in the show are exciting. For example, a huge object that looks very much like a helicopter lands on the stage. This helicopter weighs almost four-thousand kilograms."Miss Saigon" first opened in London in Nineteen-Eighty-Nine. Two years later, it opened on Broadway. The show quickly gained popularity around the world. Almost thirty-million people in nine countries have seen "Miss Saigon." And a new production of it recently opened in the Philippines.

The story of "Miss Saigon" is similar to Giacomo Puccini's opera "Madama Butterfly." "Miss Saigon" tells of the love between a young Vietnamese girl and an American soldier during the last days of the Vietnam war. The action takes place as the Viet Cong are about to capture Saigon. The time is April, Nineteen-Seventy-Five.Chris is an American Marine. He work at the American Embassy in Saigon. One evening, he visits a nightclub called Dreamland. The club owner introduces Chris to Kim. She is a seventeen-year-old country girl. Kim has fled to the city after seeing her family killed during the war.

Chris and Kim immediately fall in love. Chris questions why he has met a girl like Kim when he must soon leave Vietnam. Simon Bowman plays Chris. He sings "Why God Why?"

((TAPE CUT TWO: "WHY GOD WHY?"))Kim's family had promised that she would marry a man named Thuy. But she loves Chris. Kim tells Thuy that her parents' promises died with them. Chris says he will take Kim to America with him when he leaves Vietnam. The young lovers say their lives will change tomorrow. Lea Salonga and Simon Bowman sing "The Last Night of the World."

((TAPE CUT THREE: "THE LAST NIGHT OF THE WORLD"))Three years have passed. The Communists now control Vietnam. Kim is living in a small room in Ho Chi Minh City. She still loves Chris. But Chris is back home in the United States. Kim does not know that Chris has married an American woman named Ellen. Kim and Ellen are half a world apart. But each promises to be loyal to Chris. Claire Moore plays Ellen. She and Lea Salonga sing "I Still Believe."

((TAPE CUT FOUR: "I STILL BELIEVE"))Now the action returns to Vietnam. Kim has a two-year-old son. Chris is the father. Thuy appears and says he will marry Kim. But first, he will kill Kim's child. Kim shoots and kills Thuy to protect her son.

Kim has a dream. She relives the day Saigon fell to the Viet Cong. Many Vietnamese tried to leave the country when the Americans left. Chris was not able to find Kim in the crowd of people near the American embassy. He was forced to leave the country on the last helicopter to leave Saigon. Lea Salonga and Simon Bowman sing "The Fall of Saigon."

((TAPE CUT FIVE: "THE FALL OF SAIGON"))In the United States, Chris learns that Kim has escaped to Bangkok, Thailand. Chris also learns that he is the father of her child. He and Ellen go to Bangkok to try to help the boy.

Kim finds out that Chris and Ellen are married. Kim's hopes for herself and Chris are destroyed. Still, she hopes for the future of their child. She wants Chris to take the boy back to the United States with him.

Kim promises her son that he will have a new life in America. She dresses him in his best clothes and prepares him to join his father. Then Kim shoots herself. Chris holds his former lover in his arms as she dies. Kim asks, "How in the light of one night have we come so far?"

((TAPE CUT SIX: FINALE: "HOW IN THE LIGHT OF ONE NIGHT HAVE WE COME SO FAR?"))Over the years, the Broadway production of "Miss Saigon" has entertained millions of people. It also has helped many others. The actors in the production have raised more than one-million dollars to help people with the disease AIDS.This program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Paul Thompson. Our studio engineer was Holly Capehart. I'm Shirley Griffith.And I'm Sarah Long. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.