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'Miss Saigon' brings war to Ada

Above, from left to right, Chris (Derek Brookens) and Kim (Gilda Bernal), after getting married in secret, are confronted by Thuy (Patrick Contreras), Kim's bethrothed, who threatens to kill Chris. (photo/ Greta Augsburger)

Ohio Northern University's theater students will be performing the musical "Miss Saigon" at the Freed Center for the Performing Arts this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m and on Sunday at 2 p.m.

The show follows the story of a young Vietnamese woman and an American GI, and how this couple is tragically affected by war.

According to Kirsten Osbun-Manly, resident artist in music and co-director
of the musical theater program, "Miss Saigon" was inspired by a 100-year-old tale of Asian American romance that began with the publication of a story by John Luther Long called "Madame Butter y" in Century Magazine in 1887.

Composer Giacomo Puccini was inspired by the Luther publication and the novel Madame Chrysanthéme (1887) by Pierre Loti, he wrote an opera in three acts based on the story with the same title. The modern musical has no spoken dialogue, but instead conveys the story through many songs.

The production is being put on as a concert performance, which is a little different from a regular stage performance. Lloyd Butler, music director and co- director of the musical theater program, noted one of the differences as having a larger orchestra that sits on the stage, rather than in the orchestra pit.

"It limits where we can physically be in the space on the stage," he said.

In addition, the performance will have minimal props and costuming, with only the principle actors having costumes. Instead of scenery in the background, projections will be used to depict specific locations.

This production also has two guest actors form Mexico. Gilda Bernal plays the main female role of Kim, while Patrick Contreras plays Thuy, Kim's betrothed, who has become an officer in the Vietnamese Communist government. The two actors worked with ONU students and faculty last year and were able to come as an exchange.

According to both Butler and Osbun- Manly, Bernal and Contreras have t in very well with the rest of the cast.

"It’s really good to have this cultural experience. I also think that it’s helped the production itself," he said.

Other cast members include Derek Brookens as Chris, the American GI Kim falls in love with, Scott Swallen as John, a friend of Chris who is also an American GI, and Micah Hein as the Engineer, the owner of "Dreamland" where Kim and Chris first meet.

Tickets are now on sale for the production, though those wishing to buy tickets for children should keep in mind that there are some racy and violent scenes in "Miss Saigon."

"The story is a biting statement about prejudice and war – so there are some graphic moments,” Osbun-Manly said.

Adult tickets are buy one ($15), get
one free with a copy of this article, senior tickets and non-ONU tickets are $12, ONU student tickets are $5 and children’s tickets are $9.

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