Passions and Obsessions

Miss Saigon: A Gen-Z’s view of the multi-generational musical

Not a review—just an expression of pride in the Filipino

'Miss Saigon' 'The American Dream'—Seann Miley Moore as the Engineer always brings the house down.

Dear Reader,

This article is not a review of the 2024 run of Miss Saigon in Metro Manila.

To be frank, I don’t really want to talk only about the musical. So this won’t be a traditional review. Rather, I want to share the experience of going to one. Everything that can be said about this run of Miss Saigon has probably already been said. There is only a week left before the last show on May 12 at The Theatre at Solaire. So rather than give a review, I want to talk about how deeply this musical can take root in multiple generations of Filipinos.

I had the opportunity to watch the musical with my stepmother, my eldest brother, and a close family friend. For context, I am 24 years old (Ouch! Hurts to say that), and I count myself as Gen-Z. My brother is a Gen-Xer to Late Millennial, and my stepmother a Baby Boomer (I think).

We’re from across generations connecting through our shared experience of watching Miss Saigon.

It was my first time to see the musical live. I have listened to the soundtrack numerous times, with a particular uptick during my high school theater days. It was my brother’s third time and my stepmother’s fourth or fifth time. I listened intently to both of them over lunch before the show, as they recalled watching the previous runs of the musical. My stepmother and brother got to watch Lea Salonga’s Kim live on stage. My stepmother even got to watch Lea’s opening in the West End in London, and she recounted in detail the 24+-hour flying time because of the fog.

After the show, all four of us sat around a table eating gelato at The Patisserie, sharing our thoughts on the show. Names of previous Kims were being thrown around, how the lighting was different in previous runs (brighter), the elaborate sets, and how far it has come from the days of Lea Salonga’s Kim, the staging, and whether or not the current run’s direction leaned more on the musical or the acting. So much was being said, and I absorbed it all.

I was asked, “As a Gen-Z, how do you find Miss Saigon?” At the mention of “Gen-Z,” I had a lightbulb moment. Here were multiple generations of Filipinos who have watched Miss Saigon, each with an experience different from the other. Yet right at this table, Miss Saigon became our unique connection.

Miss Saigon

What sets Miss Saigon apart from other musicals staged in the Philippines is the immense pride we Filipinos take in it. There is a sense that we know Miss Saigon because Miss Saigon’s Kim was played by one of us. Lea Salonga is a homegrown Filipino talent who made it big when making it big in the West End or Broadway wasn’t the norm for Asians. There was no TikTok or YouTube to make her talent as a child go viral, or to land on X Factor or America’s Got Talent. The creators of Miss Saigon went purposely to the Philippines to check on Lea and the rest of the cast of the musical set to open on the West End; they chose Filipino theater artists who were showing their mettle in the local theater scene, like in Repertory Philippines.

Miss Saigon

Abigail Adriano as Kim and Nigel Huckle as Chris

Knowing how ours is one country that deeply values its music, I found it interesting to hear comments around our table about all the Kims and the Gigis played by Filipino artists like Monique Wilson, Rachelle Ann Go, Isay Alvarez, whom my stepmom and her friend had seen, including the original Kim (sounds like a dream to me); they really knew so much and had a lot to say about Miss Saigon. I thought to myself, “No one else gets to really say this about musicals the way we Filipinos do.” Filipino audiences don’t have the same amount of pride about other musicals as they do about Miss Saigon; we Filipinos seem to have proprietary rights over Miss Saigon simply because through it, the world got to recognize Filipino theater artist who skyrocketed to fame through talent, hard work, and commitment to their craft. And that was amazing to think about.

And now, the Asian Tour of Miss Saigon features Filipino or Filipino-born artists in the cast, led by Abigail Adriano, Kiara Dario.

To think that there were three generations at our table sharing their experiences and stories about the impactful musical that is Miss Saigon. It was really nice! I remember thinking to myself, it’s quite a beautiful thing that art can do. Of course, that’s a poetic translation of what was going on in my head, but that’s beside the point!

I hope that we’re able to continue supporting the arts, and that one day, in the age of digital virality and discovery, another homegrown talent can soar beyond our borders, and we can uplift our talents. Let me make a case for it.

There is something magical about musical theater and watching it live. As someone who grew up listening to musicals through CDs, then YouTube, then Spotify, one would think that the magic of live musicals would be lost on me in the age of digital streaming. But that couldn’t be more untrue. It is a different experience watching a musical live—watching the actors onstage singing and dancing with ease and charisma, the (very bright) lights flashing, and the elaborate sets that truly give one an experience that can’t be replicated no matter how much we try.

Most of my experiences with musicals up until 2016 were all from hearing them on CDs and watching videos on YouTube, then Spotify. The Gen-Z is a unique generation with a unique privilege—we don’t necessarily need to go all the way to Broadway or the West End in London to enjoy musicals. I think that’s partly why live theater is still able to last in the digital age or age of on-demand entertainment, when convenience rules over all, and you never need to leave your house to watch or listen to something.

But there is beauty in making a trip to the theater. There is something great about supporting musicals in the Philippines and supporting productions beyond the internationally acclaimed ones. So as someone who wants to continue watching musicals and who wants to see them make it not only to the next generation, but also to many more generations to come, I say, please support the arts!

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Miss Saigon extends Manila run to May 12, 2024.

GMG Productions has announced the final extension dates of Cameron Mackintosh’s globally acclaimed new production of Boublil & Schönberg’s Miss Saigon in Manila, to May 12, 2024 at The Theatre at Solaire. GMG Productions’ CEO Carlos Candal commented, “We’re beyond thrilled with the excitement and enthusiasm that the Filipino audience has for Miss Saigon, that we’ve now made the decision to extend the production for one more final week. We’re eager to welcome more people to be able to experience the classic production.”

The Miss Saigon Asian Tour is led byAbigail Adriano as Kim, Seann Miley Moore as the Engineer, Nigel Huckle as Chris, Laurence Mossman as Thuy, Kiara Dario as Gigi, Sarah Morrison as Ellen, and Lewis Francis as John.

More Filipinos also joined the cast, as Manila auditions were held for the role of Tam last January. Local children Anderson Bonita, Keone Buenaluz, Dylan De Ocampo, Enzo Isaac, and Cassidy Lorenzana were chosen to portray the character of Kim’s son on stage.

Miss Saigon has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil, adapted from original French lyrics by Alain Boublil, with additional lyrics by Michael Mahler. The new production is directed by Laurence Connor with musical staging by Bob Avian and additional choreography by Geoffrey Garratt. The production design is by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley based on an original concept by Adrian Vaux; costume design by Andreane Neofitou; lighting design by Bruno Poet; projections by Luke Halls; sound design by Mick Potter; and orchestrations by William David Brohn. Music supervision is by Alfonso Casado Trigo and Guy Simpson.

Tickets are available exclusively through TicketWorld. The Asian Tour of Miss Saigon is produced by GWB Entertainment. The Manila season is produced by GMG Productions, co-presented by Union Bank of the Philippines, with Philippine Airlines as the official airline partner. For updates and exclusive announcements, visit www.gmg-productions.com or follow us @gmg.productions.


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