Small theatre companies from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, have snagged the rights to the hit musical drama Miss Saigon since the show's Broadway closing Jan. 31, 2001. The first to secure those rights, Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, Texas, ends its production, starring Broadway cast members Hinton Battle and Sean McDermott, April 1. The new production began performances March 20.
Three time Tony winner Battle who created the role of John in the original Broadway company of Miss Saigon reprised his role. McDermott, a Broadway Chris, also took that role. Other Saigon alumnus include Joseph Anthony Foronda (The Engineer), Emy Baycis (Kim), Misty Cotton (Ellen) and Edmund Nalzaro (Thuy).
Miss Saigon, by Les Miserables' team Claude Michel Schoenberg and Alain Boublil and American lyricist and director Richard Maltby, Jr., resets the Madame Butterfly story in war torn Vietnam. During the final days of America's involvement in that country, Chris, a young GI, falls in love with Kim, a Vietnamese prostitute, but is forced to leave her behind when Saigon falls. Kim has his child, but years later, when he returns to Vietnam with his American wife, she is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice.
Tickets to Miss Saigon are $18-$57. To order, call (713) 558-TUTS. Theater Under the Stars is on the web at http://www.tuts.com.
* After Miss Saigon is done strutting her stuff across the Arena Stage, TUTS will debut the new Lee Pockriss-Hal Hackady musical, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, based on the 1962 Bette Davis Joan Crawford film.
Baby Jane comes second in the TUTS season, running from July 10 22 at the Wortham Center. In this twisted psychological profile of show business gone mad, former child vaudevillian Baby Jane Hudson becomes caretaker for her movie star sister Blanche when the latter has a mysterious crippling accident. Encased in hideous pancake make-up and in a precarious mental condition, Jane torments and tortures her sister, while Blanche tries desperately to escape.
Pockriss composed such hits as "Catch a Falling Star," "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" and "Johnny Angel." Hackady provided lyrics for Little By Little, Goodtime Charley and Snoopy! all with composer Larry Grossman. Henry Farrell will write the book.
Also planned in the TUTS season will be the return of Gladys Knight to Smokey Joe's Cafe, playing Aug. 7-19 at the Wortham Center, Cirque du Soleil's Dralion with dates to be announced and a December, 2001 staging of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods.
Subscriptions ($304-$81) are available. To order, call (713) 558-TUTS. Theater Under the Stars is on the web at http://www.tuts.com.
— By Christine Ehren