April 19, 2007

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Vietnam at the Palace
Some great performances, but few Asians in Palace Professional’s Miss Saigon
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Miss Saigon opened at the Palace Theatre in Manchester with some standout performances Friday, April 13. The scene that most wowed the filled house was Angelo Rios’ performance of “Bui Doi” that opened the second act. He was backed by an excellent men’s choir for the song, in which a veteran preaches about his new cause of linking Vietnamese children fathered by American soldiers with their U.S. families.

Carol Angeli Feiger’s strong voice made for a powerful performance as Kim, the Vietnamese girl waiting for her American husband to return. This was the Palace debut for the Penn State graduate, but she has played the role before. Wally Calderon shouldered the pivotal role of “The Engineer,” Kim’s pimp, with finesse. Calderon is also the Palace’s artistic director for Youth Theatre, and has appeared in several of the venue’s professional shows. He leads several scenes as The Engineer, culminating with the finale “The American Dream,” which utilized more of Calderon’s dance skill.

Kaleigh Cronin as Gigi, crowned “Miss Saigon” at The Engineer’s bar and brothel, gave a powerful performance of “The Movie in My Mind.” Her performance made her seem much older than a woman about to start college as a freshman at Carnegie Mellon. She’s also appeared in Smokey Joe’s Cafe and Cats at the Palace.

Based on Puccini’s opera Madame Buttlerfly, Miss Saigon is entirely sung. Hence, some of the scenes or conversations are set up not unlike how Psalms are sung, holding one note until the last four syllables of the line.

A lot has to be packed into the beginning of Miss Saigon to get to the main conflict. The Palace’s production felt more choppy at the beginning than I remember the Broadway show being. The set-up moved so fast that it was a little hard to believe in the initial love story. However, the performers and the pace settled into a more convincing flow later in the first act, and continued throughout the second.

Miss Saigon ran from 1991 to 2001 on Broadway and premiered in London 1989, written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil with lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. Allegedly, there was controversy originally about a Caucasian actor playing The Engineer on Broadway. The Palace managed to find Asian actors to perform as Kim and her son, but that’s all. It’s initially kind of jarring to see a bunch of Caucasians in black wigs, in this show.

The Palace also distributed 2007-2008 season subscription forms at the show. The tentative professional line-up includes The Full Monty in September, West Side Story in October, Dream Girls in November and All Shook Up, Crazy For You, A Chorus Line, and La Cage aux Folles in the spring. The plays are subject to rights and availability changes.

Miss Saigon runs Friday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 21, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Ticket costs range from $20 to $40, and tickets are available at 668-5588. Singin’ in the Rain closes this Palace professional season May 11 through May 19.


4/12/2007 Confluence

4/5/2007 First look
3/29/2007 Reluctant star
3/15/2007 In a town far away
3/8/2007 Curtain calls
3/1/2007 Into the future
2/22/2007 But will it play in New Hampshire
2/15/2007 Curtain calls
2/8/2007 Family affair
2/1/2007 Curtain calls
1/25/2007 Curtain calls
1/18/2007 Curtain calls
1/11/2007 Curtain calls
1/4/2007 Fork in the road
12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
12/21/2006 Curtain Calls
12/14/2006 Players remember Peter Bridges
12/07/2006 Young talent
11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays
11/23/2006 Curtain Calls
11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
08/17/2006 Curtain Calls
08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palace’s Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid
Plaid (II)
Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
Theater in the park draws big
The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace
Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother