11 Apr 2013
On this date 22 years ago, Miss Saigon opened at the Broadway Theatre.
The much-anticipated followup from the team behind Les Misérables arrived in America amidst hype and controversy. The production made headlines when Actors Equity barred Jonathan Pryce's casting in a Eurasian role. Though Pryce had created the role to much acclaim in London's West End, Equity denied the English actor's transfer with the production, arguing that the role should be open to an Asian-American actor.
Following criticism and producer Cameron Mackintosh's threats to cancel the Broadway mounting, Equity reversed its decision, and production continued. The musical opened April 11, 1991, at the Broadway Theatre to record sales and positive reviews.
"Without imparting one fresh or daring thought about the Vietnam War," wrote Frank Rich in his New York Times review, "the show still manages to plunge the audience back into the quagmire of a generation ago, stirring up feelings of anguish and rage that run even deeper than the controversies that attended Miss Saigon before its curtain went up."
The musical earned 11 Tony nominations, a tie with The Will Rogers Follies, but the latter production handily dominated in the major categories, including Best Musical. Miss Saigon earned just three Tonys, as Jonathan Pryce, Lea Salonga, and Hinton Battle took home awards for their acclaimed performances.
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