Since its sensational record-breaking run at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane 25 years ago, Miss Saigon has played in 300 cities in 15 different languages, winning awards around the world.
It’s an epic love story that tells the tragic tale of young bargirl Kim, who falls in love with American GI Chris. Their lives are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. And while the musical is truly an international sensation, when it comes to the Gold Coast it will stay true to its dramatic storyline, but will also feature local performers with The Arts Centre Gold Coast transformed in line with the theme.
It’s one of the few performances that is produced by The Arts Centre Gold Coast itself – with most others bought or ‘presented’. Brad Rush is Miss Saigon’s director. He said the local response to the call for auditions was impressive. “I think we auditioned about 105 people,” Brad said. “But we shortlisted before too, so we had more than that interested.” He estimates 70% of the 31-strong cast is from the Gold Coast or nearby. “We’ve got a local talent and a couple of great stories,” he said. “One girl in particular is ex Gold Coast – she went away and went to WAAPA (WA Academy of Performing Arts) – in the musical world that’s even better than NIDA. She’s back and we’ve cast her as Ellen. Her name is Tanele Storm Graham.”
Brad lists a couple of the other leads played by Gold Coast talent – Chris White (playing Chris) and Matt Ward (playing John). Brad took on the role as Director for Miss Saigon on top of his usual role as the Performing Arts Manager for the centre. He calls it ‘getting his hands dirty’. “My organization has embraced and allowed me to get my hands dirty,” he said. “I find it incredibly exciting. I love bringing all the elements together – a bit lilke a puppeteer – it’s the set, it’s the costumes, it’s the music. I feel like a facilitator that has this amazing opportunity to pull that together.” “I think it has all the ingredients: it’s a love story. It’s decadent, it’s colourful, but it’s a little bit tragic at the same time.”
There will be seven performances of Miss Saigon at The Arts Centre and rehearsals started 17 April. “We’ve pretty much smashed through most of the music – as in the vocals / the singing. So yesterday we started The Heat is On in Saigon which is the opening to the show. Brad said ticket sales have been strong. “I think people really love the show – it’s a really good opportunity to see the show that doesn’t get done very often.
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Miss Saigon | The Arts Centre Gold Coast 12 – 20 June | more at theartscentregc.com.au