Cue the helicopter.
Paper Mill: The State Theatre of New Jersey will open its 2002 2003 season with the New Jersey premiere of Miss Saigon, in a staging by Mark S. Hoebee, Sept. 4-Oct 20.
The Madama Butterfly-inspired pop musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg (Les Misérables) and Richard Maltby Jr. (Big, Closer Than Ever) is set in the 1970s during and after the Vietnam war. An American soldier falls in love with a Vietnamese woman and their passion crosses boundaries over the years until their explosive reunion.
Hoebee is an associate director at Paper Mill. He recently staged the special curtain call at the end of the Jan. 25 milestone performance of Les Miz, when the pop musical surpassed the performance count of A Chorus Line.
The Paper Mill staging is by special permission of producer Cameron Mackintosh. Only a handful of American regional theatres have staged Miss Saigon since it closed on Broadway Jan. 28, 2001. It has played Theatre Under the Stars in Texas, North Shore Music Theatre in Massachusetts and The Marriott Theatre in Illinois. National tours, of course, have criss-crossed the nation over the last decade. Michael Anania will design sets at Paper Mill in Millburn, NJ. The rest of the season has not yet been announced. For subscription information, call (973) 379-3717. Single tickets for Oct. -9-20 performances go on sale to the general public April 1. Call the Paper Mill box office at (973) 376-4343. All remaining seats for other weeks go on sale July 8.
Boublil penned book, lyrics and original French lyrics, Schonberg book and music and Maltby the English language lyrics.
Miss Saigon made its U.S. premiere at the Broadway Theatre April 11, 1991 and ran 4,036 performances. The show was the most-popular request among Paper Mill audiences when a survey was conducted in fall 2001.
The rest of Paper Mill's 2002-2003 season will be announced shortly.
Like Les Miz, Miss Saigon can feel like grand opera or be irised-down to a small, human scale. The show is scenically renowned for the illusion of a helicopter taking off in Act Two. "Everybody used to say, 'Well, Miss Saigon is only a spectacle,'" Cameron Mackintosh told Playbill On-Line earlier this year. "I've always known that was absolute nonsense! In the last year we've had the proof of it in that we've been licensing it to places — 400-seat theatres, 900- seat theatres. It's just had an incredible run in Chicago, at the Marriott Theatre. It's the biggest success they've ever had. And the reviews from all the Chicago critics, who have always loved the original, said, 'My God, this is even better than ever because you're right there in the middle of the storytelling.'"