Most people are unaware of the fact that they have dozens of company logos stored away in their mind that they can recognize easily. Every day we are bombarded with advertisements, on television, billboards, and magazines. We can recognise brands simply based on the graphic that they place on their product and so companies tend to invest a lot of time into making these logos memorable, because a memorable logo means a memorable product.
And it is no different in the theatre. Each new musical has a logo designed that will be shown from the theatre marquees and billboards in time square. Theatre fans know that the glowing yellow eyes signify the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats, and that the black, green and white graphic of two witches is the logo for Wicked. Perhaps one of the most famous musical theatre logos shows a yellow sun rising over a deep red background, with a calligraphed black ink symbol looming in front. Guess it yet? It’s none other than the famous Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil musical, Miss Saigon.
Set during the Vietnam war, Miss Saigon tells the story of Kim, a young bargirl who falls in love with an American soldier named Christopher Scott. Based on Giacamo Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon is an epic story that traverses the planes of human emotion from the moment the curtain rises until the last bows are taken. Following in the success of the composers’ previous musical, Les Miserables, the show became the eleventh longest running Broadway musical, boasting over four thousand performances. And now, theatre company NOVA is bringing Miss Saigon to the stage here in Melbourne, with a cast absolutely dedicated to representing the grandeur of such a well-known musical.
“Miss Saigon is a rollercoaster of a ride, and illustrates almost every emotion possible,” says Stephen Coutts who will be playing the role of the American, Chris. “It is a show, which incorporates love, loss and even some comedic relief.”
“It is a finely skilled treatment of one of the most horrific periods in human history,” says Cze-Hui Lee, who brings the character of Kim to life in this production, “tempering the aftermath and depravity of modern warfare with the strength and resilience of the human spirit. You cannot help but be affected by Miss Saigon. “
But with such complex material comes challenges, and the two leads of this production have had their fair share of obstacles to overcome. “For me, the personal challenge has been getting a handle on the role of Kim!” says Lee. “It is a mammoth role! It is not only vocally challenging, but it requires the performer to draw on a gamut of emotions. Kim is put through the wringer, emotionally, and it has been a challenge to ensure that the emotions I convey are completely believable. I myself have never endured an iota of what Kim endures, but I can relate to many of the emotions she experiences – love, heartache, strength.”
And of course, lets not forget the music! Both Lee and Coutts have had to face reams of complicated songs composed by a duo that are well known for their epic choral pieces and intricate harmonies. “This show is all sung,” says Coutts, “and there are some incredibly hard harmonies and parts to learn. The entire cast has done an amazing job, to produce [this] show.”
“I had heard a number of songs from the show, namely 'Sun and Moon' and 'I'd Give my Life for You'. I remember hearing Lea Salonga's voice and being completely blown away,” says Lee. “[The] challenge has been the sheer volume of songs and lyrics I have had to learn. But I have enjoyed every minute of it! I feel as though this role has really stretched me as a performer and that kind of growth is always a thoroughly rewarding experience. “
We needn’t worry about these challenges however. The show is in experienced hands. Despite the two leads not being overly familiar with the show before beginning, (“I only really knew the song 'Bui Doi' which I sang at some school concerts and for a singing exam,” confesses Coutts) they have been preparing themselves for roles such of these since they started performing, sharpening their teeth with school productions and amateur shows. “This is my second amateur show, and my first big role in amateur theatre,” says Coutts. “I finished school in 2010, and performed in 'Grease' playing the role of Danny Zuko and 'Calamity Jane'. My first amateur show, was only last year. I was one of the sharks in Babirra Music Theatres production of 'West Side Story'.”
Lee is also more then ready to step up to the challenge of a lead role such as Kim. “Last year, I performed in Nova's 'Chicago' as the Merry Murderess Liz,” Lee says. “Prior to that, I have performed in 'Cabaret' (Dandenong Theatre Company), 'Into the Woods' (MUMCo), 'Jesus Christ Superstar' (MUMCo), 'West Side Story' (MATCo) and 'The Boyfriend' (MATCo). The role of Kim will be my first feature role in an amateur musical, outside of highschool.”
Miss Saigon promises to take its audience on an intimate and emotional journey, accompanied by dazzling music and uplifting vocals. This is definitely one that is not to be missed. Check out the details, make sure you pencil it into your calendar and come along to see NOVA, along with Coutts, Lee and the rest of the talented cast tell you the story of Miss Saigon.
Playing at: The Whitehorse Centre, 397 Whitehorse Road, Nunawading
Tickets: Adults $38.00, Concession $33.00,
Child 15 & under $28.00, Groups 10+ $30.00,
Gala extra $10.00*
BOOKINGS: 1300 305 771
Friday 11th May 8pm (Gala performance & supper)*
Saturday 12th May 8pm
Thursday 17th May 8pm
Friday 18th May 8pm
Saturday 19th May 2pm
Saturday 19th May 8pm
Sunday 20th May 2pm
Wednesday 23rd May 8pm
Thursday 24th May 8pm
Friday 25th May 8pm
Saturday 26th May 2pm
Saturday 26th May 8pm
DIRECTOR: Noel Browne
MUSIC DIRECTOR: John Clancy
CHOREOGRAPHER: Wayne Robinson