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Customer Review

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original version is better than what I ended up seeing, 6 July 2004
This review is from: Miss Saigon [Original London Cast] (Audio CD)
have seen "Miss Saigon" twice and have come to the definite conclusion that I like the "original" story contained on this two-disc set a lot more than I like the revised version I have seen on stage. The genesis for this Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Schonberg musical was two-fold, the well known Puccini opera "Madame Butterfly" (the main theme of which sounds briefly in the Finale and a haunting photograph of a Vietnamese woman seeing her daughter for the last time before the child goes to America to live with her ex-GI father (the photo is included in the libretto). In performance the return has been to the Puccini story line, where the woman kills herself BECAUSE her American lover has taken her child away. However, I maintain that what you have in this version is much more powerful: Kim kills herself to FORCE Chris and his wife to take Tam to the United States. In this latter context Kim's song "I'd Give My Life For You" makes sense and is more powerful. The change also resulted in an awkward and almost complete revision of Ellen's big solo number "Her or Me," which also loses a great deal of power. Fortunately, that song survives on this disc.
Vocally the women stand out much stronger than the men, from Lea Salonga's exquisite performance throughout ("I'd Give My Life for You", "The Revelation"), to Clare Moore's impassioned duet and solo work ("I Still Believe" and "Her or Me"), to the chorus of bar girls ("The Movie in My Mind"). The male singers are surely adequate, but not especially memorable, except of course for Jonathan Pryce's star turn as the Engineer ("The American Dream"). My favorite pieces in the show tend to be the duets: Kim and Chris in "The Last Night of the World," Kim and Ellen in "I Still Believe," Kim and John in "Please." Emotionally the show contains more punch than the more celebrated "Les Miserable" by Boubill and Schonberg, made all the more effective because of the way a key chunk of the story (how Kim and Chris got seprated during "The Fall of Saigon") is not revealed until Act 2 when it comes in between the soaring optimism of Kim finding out Chris is in Bangkok ("Please") and the shattering revelation of his marriage to Ellen ("Room 317"). Even without seeing the famous helicopter scene on stage, this is an emotionally draining sequence of songs. "Miss Saigon" is closing on Broadway soon, but even if you never get to see it on stage, just listening to it will still give you chills and drive you to tears.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Jul 2015 00:22:19 BDT
I'm a little confused about your references to the changes. Could you clarify it for me? Did the original show have Kim killing herself because they are going to take the child or does she kill herself to force them to take him? What version had which scenario? And why would this affect the 'Her or Me' (Now That I've Seen Her) song?
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Lawrance Bernabo
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   

Location: The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota

Top Reviewer Ranking: 80,108