Thursday, May 26, 2011

Walnut Street Miss Saigon: Day One

Opening night, Wednesday, May 25th
The theater was sold out, except for one seat left in the upper balcony, back row, which I snapped up.  It was a treat to see the capacity crowd clap, whistle and roar in appreciation after the musical numbers.  Apparently, there have been standing ovations every night and this was no exception.  Every person stood, from the upper balcony to the front row. 

The reason for that is, this cast is exceptional.  Eric is joined by his Houston Kim, Melinda Chua.  They know each other inside and out, having done the show so often together, every move looks entirely natural and believable. They have worked with Philip Michael Baskerville before as well and he always turns in consistently excellent performances.   The part of the engineer always has been a scene stealer and show stopper, but the spin Bobby Martino puts on the role takes it up a whole other notch.  I don't know how he does it but he elicits real sympathy for his sleazy character expecially during the re-education sequence. 

Having seen Eric perform this role at the Muny and at TUTS in Houston, I felt he played his character in a slightly more hardened, jaded way than before.  That made his falling in love with Kim all the more poignant. 

The pivital helicopter scene is a challenge depending on the limitations of the venue.  Director Bruce Lumpkin is especially inventive here at the Walnut and is able to use smoke and mirrors for a realistic evacuation sequence.  I've seen the show produced four different times.  I've never been quite so moved to tears as this production.  Kudos to the entire cast, director and crew for their superb work! 
(written by Maggi Wunschl)

No comments: