WAR’S HELL HITS HOME

The doomed ro­mance be­tween a Viet­namese bar girl and an Amer­i­can GI has cap­ti­vated au­di­ences the world over. Now Gold Coast au­di­ences have the chance to see a lo­cal pro­duc­tion

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY | SHOWS - ROSE SADLEIR

Brad Rush felt an emo­tional con­nec­tion to Miss Saigon’s sound­track long be­fore he’d even seen the mu­si­cal. Writ­ten by the com­posers who cre­ated Les Mis­er­ables, Brad says it’s the kind of mu­sic that tugs at heart strings.

“The sound­track is a long­time favourite of mine – I felt an emo­tional con­nec­tion to it,” he says.

“Mu­si­cally Miss Saigon is gor­geous. But the mu­sic drives the story – there is no dia­logue – so you can eas­ily lis­ten to the sound­track and un­der­stand ex­actly what’s hap­pen­ing with­out see­ing it.”

When Brad had the chance to swap cre­ative hats – he’s usu­ally the per­form­ing arts manager at The Arts Cen­tre – and slip into his direc­tor shoes, he knew ex­actly which script he wanted to bring to life.

“It’s not a mu­si­cal that’s done very of­ten as it’s a pretty big scale tech­ni­cally and mu­si­cally, but I be­lieve we have the re­sources to pull it off,” says Brad.

“It’s proved to be quite an ex­cel­lent choice – the com­mu­nity has ral­lied around it and there’s a huge buzz about the show.”

Open­ing at The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast to­mor­row night, the lo­cal pro­duc­tion of Miss Saigon stars Vivien Emsworth and Chris White as the leads along­side Tanele Storm Gra­ham, Matt Ward, Alison McKen­zie, Adam Jon, Adrian Li Donni and Ethan Yin Lan.

With an 18-piece en­sem­ble band lead by mu­si­cal direc­tor David Piper, the lo­cal pro­duc­tion is brought to life with help from as­sis­tant direc­tor and chore­og­ra­pher Ellen Simp­son, cos­tume designer Jean Marash­lian and set designer John Mcin­tosh.

A mu­si­cal love story, Miss Saigon tells the tragic tale of a doomed ro­mance be­tween Kim, a Viet­namese bar girl or­phaned by war, and Chris, an Amer­i­can GI.

Their lives are torn apart by the fall of Saigon.

In­spired by a sin­gle pho­to­graph, this clas­sic story has been per­formed for more than 25 years in over 300 cities and 15 dif­fer­ent lan­guages world­wide.

“It’s a tragic story,” says Brad. “For me there are four el­e­ments – it’s about the war which was hideous, it’s about a beau­ti­ful love story but it’s also a heart­break­ing love story.

“It’s also about their boy. Born as a re­sult of this re­la­tion­ship, that child rep­re­sents thou­sands of ba­bies born to Asian women who prob­a­bly had Amer­i­can or Aus­tralian fa­thers.

“Lastly it’s about the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice – what would you do for your kids?”

If the au­di­ence walk out with tis­sues in hand, Brad feels his job is com­plete.

“It’s a heart­break­ing story that peo­ple will connect to – and if there are tears then they have re­ally con­nected to the char­ac­ters,” he says.

“Ul­ti­mately as a direc­tor to have the au­di­ence fall into the jour­ney, that means there’s a sense of re­al­ism and le­git­i­macy about your work.

“It all sounds heavy but it is re­ally well writ­ten, and there’s breaks and colour­ful num­bers that help the au­di­ence have a rest from the drama.”

Brad has given Bris­banebased ac­tor and singer Vivien Emsworth free­dom to ex­plore her char­ac­ter Kim.

Vivien says it’s a role she ex­plored in her fi­nal year of uni­ver­sity, where she was study­ing a Bach­e­lor of Arts in Mu­si­cal Theatre.

She has dreamt of play­ing the part since.

“It’s my dream role – I would be com­pletely ful­filled as a per­former to do this show for a long time,” she says.

“There’s some­thing about it. I al­ways find some­thing new in the story. I don’t get sick of it.”

With the lead­ing role re­quir­ing a lot of vo­cal stamina and en­ergy – Vivien is prac­ti­cally singing the en­tire show – the star says she’s en­joy­ing ex­plor­ing the dif­fer­ent en­er­gies and emo­tions of her char­ac­ter.

“The mu­sic is so in­tense and the story so mov­ing,” she says.

“I love all the pow­er­ful bits but I also love the del­i­cate parts.

“Kim be­comes a bea­con of light for Chris in this dark abysmal war.”

The cast of The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast's

Miss Saigon

run through their paces

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