The cast of the current mini-tour of Miss Saigon at the Fisher Theater? Excellent. It’s very easy for the characters to be bland, phoned-in and almost caricatures but everyone brought their A-game to create interesting, human roles and I was impressed as heck.
Jonny Hsu Lee as Thuy was a total standout for me. Thuy is so easy to play… well, “straight” villain, but in Lee I could see a young man who likely went through hell to find Kim only for her to reject him and risk her own life and his life and marriage and his future happiness—and who felt betrayed and hurt and angry that she wasn’t going to give in. He wasn’t just a blindly angry man rushing at Tam. You could see the realization in his face of what she had done—that she had “married” Chris and finally, borne his son, and that in order for them to live together, her son would have to die.
Nkrumah Gatling, as John, was another stand-out. Not only was his voice outstanding, but he managed to work in these little gestures that made John real. From the incredulous look during “The Telephone” call (“April fucking Moon!”) to his realization that Kim was in love with Chris and that Chris, and her love for him, had been her lifeline the past few years.
Manna Nicholas was very raw and emotional. I keep thinking back to the blurb in her program bit, “A portion of Ms. Nichols’ tour salary will be donated to Love146 to rehabilitate sex-trafficked child victims and prevent tragic stories like Kim’s: Love146.com,” and wonder if the emotion in her performance was inspired or connected to her work with that organization. Kim is a difficult role to play, and play well, but she’s definitely up there in my favorite portrayals of Kim.
Orville Mendoza, especially after the first half of the show, was (to be cliche) a showstopper. I’m too tired to keep going but everyone was great.
Okay, I’m not even sure I can use “standout” when everyone was amazing.
A few things had me quirking my head a bit… (and this is probably just nitpicking) one was that Chris seemed pretty happy and excited (grinning, laughing, etc) to be in Dreamland during The Heat Is On In Saigon, only to very suddenly turn disinterested when his little solo came up. Another was that “slowly raising both arms in the air” was overused. It’s a very dramatic, theatrical gesture and it needs to be kept for special moments, IMO.
(Also, and this isn’t the fault of the actors, but sometimes the lyrics were muffled because the music was waaaay too loud. I dont know if it’s because we were on the left side near the speakers or what, but if I didn’t know the libretto like the back of my own hand, I know there are certain parts I wouldn’t have understood.)