The heat is on in Saigon . . . again. The Paper Mill: State Theater of New Jersey's production of Miss Saigon, the Tony-nominated musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, begins previews Sept. 4. The official opening is scheduled for Sept. 6, and the pop opera will run through Oct. 20.
Kevin Gray, who was most recently on Broadway in the lavish revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, heads the cast as The Engineer, a role he played to critical acclaim in the Toronto and Los Angeles productions of the musical. Dina Lynne Morishita will star as Kim, the young Vietnamese woman who falls in love with American G.I. Chris (Aaron Ramey). The demanding role made a star of Lea Salonga, who played Kim in the West End and Broadway mountings of Saigon; coincidentally, Salonga returns to Broadway this month in a revised version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song.
Others in the Saigon company include Alan H. Green (John), Kate Baldwin (Ellen) and Steven Eng (Thuy). The ensemble comprises Cristina Ablaza, Randy Ballesteros, Bernie Blanks, Kevin M. Burrows, Paul Canaan, Terrence McKinley Clowe, Francis Cruz, Christopher Davis, Dexter Echiverri, Richard Feng Zhu, Kelly Fong, Samantha Futterman, Megumi Haggerty, Michael Hunsaker, Joanne Javien, Spencer C. Jones, Mark Ledbetter, Kathy Nejat, Mayumi Omagari, Whitney Osentoski, Bobby Pestka, Diane Veronica Phelan, Freddy Ramirez, Summer Tiana Sablan, Adrienne Sam, Michael Vea and Lisa Yuen. Naomi Nalzoro and Galen Ng will share the role of the Kim's young son, Tam.
Paper Mill's associate director, Mark S. Hoebee, will helm Saigon, having previously directed productions of The King and I, Victor/Victoria, The Will Rogers Follies and Dreamgirls for the New Jersey theatre. Tom Helm will serve as the musical director, and Darren Lee, now starring on Broadway in Thoroughly Modern Millie, will choreograph. Others in the creative team include Michael Anania (scenic design), F. Mitchell Dana (lighting design), Duncan Robert Edwards and David F. Shapiro (sound design) and Ray Delle Robbins and Gail Baldoni (costumes). Miss Saigon debuted on Broadway on March 23, 1991, and ran through Jan. 28, 2001. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Nicholas Hytner, the pop opera won Tony Awards for three of its original stars, Jonathan Pryce, Hinton Battle and Salonga.
Miss Saigon will play the Paper Mill Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 7:30 PM with Thursday and Sunday matinees at 2 PM and Saturday matinees at 2:30 PM. Tickets are priced between $30 and $67 and may be purchased by calling the theatre's box office at (973) 376-4343. Paper Mill: State Theatre of New Jersey is located on Brookside Drive in Millburn, NJ. For more information, go to www.papermill.org