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October 18, 1994 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-10-18

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 18, 1994--9


'Saigon's story, not helicopter, lingers


It's a bird! It's a plane! It's -
"Miss Saigon"? After over a year of
anticipation, "Miss Saigon" has fi-
nally landed in Detroit. Propelled by

1994 has already been hailed the year punk broke by Spin Magazine as The
* Offspring and Green Day have rocketed up the charts. If there is any justice
in the world Bracket, a foursome hailing from a small town in Northern
California, will soon follow. Bracket play power-punk/pop complete with two
minute songs, anthemic choruses, and distorted guitars. What differentiates
Bracket from countless other purveyors of Husker Du and The Dickies is
that Bracket does it well. Their songs are an infectious blend of power and
melodic hooks that will have you humming along in no time. They have a
great new album, "924 Forestville St.", out on Caroline Records which is
definitely worth a listen and they will be appearing at the Old Miami with
Very Pleasant Neighbor tonight. Show time is at 10 p.m. and tickets will be
no more than five dollars at the door - so there are no excuses. Call 831-
@3830 for more information.
- Ariel Gandsman

Miss Saigon
Masonic Temple Theatre
October 14, 1994
a working helicopter and driven by a
Cadillac, the spectacle appears to be
the thing. But the effects are merely
Peel away the pyrotechnics and
you'll discover a heartful story, so-
phisticated score and all-around vi-
brant production.
This touring company easily sur-
passes its Canadian counterpart (at
Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre)
with its energy, and gives the Broad-
way production a run for its money.
Measuring the strength of individu-
als, group performance, visuals, ef-
fects and music, this is undoubtedly
the best touring production that De-
troit has seen.
Authors Alain Boublil and Claude-
Michel Schonberg (of "Les
Misdrables" fame) didn't take a risk
with the storyline; it's "Madame But-
terfly" transplanted to 1975 Saigon.
East meets West, and East gets
screwed. Slap that against the histori-
cal backdrop of the fall of Saigon and
the rise of Ho Chi Minh, and you have
a hit.
"Saigon" lacks the musical depth
of the Boublil-Schonberg debut, "Les
Mis6rables." It is not as well-rounded
a score, and there are not as many
meaty solos. Give the authors some
credit, however, for attempting au-
thenticity: the score is peppered with
twangy plucks of strings, heavy gongs
and airy Asian flutes, all evocative of
traditional Asian music. However,
there are some powerhouse numbers:
"Why God Why?" (though its place-
ment weakens it), "I Still Believe,"
"The Morning of the Dragon," "Bui
Doi," "Now That I've Seen Her" and

"The American Dream."
Nicholas Hytner (now a Tony-
winner for the "Carousel" revival)
deserves much credit for his staging.
Compared to "Les Miz," "Saigon" is
much easier and much more exciting
to watch. Numbers like "The Morn-
ing of the Dragon" are veritable vi-
sual explosions, with its ritualistic
dancing, acrobatics and masks. And
the slide presentation combined with
choral singing in "Bui Doi" is enough
to make anyone give that 30 cents a
day to Sally Struthers and her philan-
thropic causes.
"Saigon"'s new sweetheart is Jen-
nifer Paz, who endows Kim with a big
heart and unwavering spirit. Paz
makes more out of the role than the
stereotypical subservient Asian girl,
and she has the siren of a voice neces-
sary for Kim. Her "I'd Give My Life
For You" is positively heartbreaking.
Eric Kunze gives a powerful yet
sympathetic performance as Chris.
His bright tenor soars through the
love duets (with Jennifer Paz's Kim),

and attacks Chris' angst-ridden "Why
God Why?" with strength and vigor.
Kunze plays Chris' emotional tur-
moil to the heights. With boy-next-
door looks and resilient spirit, Kunze's
Chris is the embodiment of America,
out of place and homesick in Viet-
All of this action is overseen by a
seedy pimp called the Engineer, here
played to perfection by Kevin Gray.
Detroit audiences may remember
Gray from the title role of "The Phan-
tom of the Opera." Fresh from a stint
as the Engineer in the Toronto pro-
duction, and from recording the com-
plete symphonic "Miss Saigon," Gray
is the crowning glory of this produc-
tion. Clad in a purple leisure suit and
yellow Hawaiian shirt, he brings all
the requisite sleaze, underhandedness
and self-aggrandizement to the role,
and adds a comic edge and deep-
seated passion lacking of other Engi-
neers (see "The American Dream").
And, oh yes, the effects are great.
The helicopter - no doubt the most

anticipated aspect of the show - ar-
rives a good two hours into the
evening. And yes, it is exciting. But
let's save the tumultuous applause for
Paz, Kunze, Gray (not to mention
native Detroiter Charles E. Wallace
as John) and the rest of the company.
The performances, the songs and the
story are the factors which will linger
in our minds and hearts for years to
MISS SAIGON plays through
January 1, 1995 at the Masonic
Temple Theatre (800 Temple
Avenue, Detroit). Performances are
Tuesday through Saturday at 8
p.m., Sunday at 7:30 p.m. with
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2
p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $60
for Friday and Saturday evenings,
and $16 to $55 for all other days!
times. For information about group,
senior or special student tickets,
call (313) 832-2232. For more
information, call (313) 832-5900.
To charge tickets by phone, call
(810) 645-6666.

Shown here is "The Morning of the Dragon" number, which depicts the fall of Saigon and the rise of Ho Chi Minh.

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