Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Miss Saigon Reviews

There are only 7 performances left of Miss Saigon! Reviewers came opening weekend and loved the show! See below for highlights from each review, and click on their links for the full story!

Roy Dicks of The News & Observer said, "The gritty reality of this Vietnam-era drama takes special understanding and commitment to make it work. Such is the case for NC Theatre's current riveting, emotionally gripping staging."

Zack Smith of the Independent Weekly states, "On a technical level, this is perhaps one of the most impressive productions ever seen at Memorial..." and went on to say "This is a huge hit for NC Theatre."

Robert McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina said, "With stellar performances of Jennifer Paz, Eric Kunze, and Kevin Gray and its outstanding supporting cast, the North Carolina Theatre’s gala presentation of Miss Saigon proves once again that the Raleigh-based regional theater can create must-see musicals that rival the best of the bus-and-truck series. Don’t miss it."

The Curtain Speech

So the stakes are pretty high in my mind since the talent on the stage for this production of Miss Saigon is "off the Richter scale" thus my delivery cannot stumble or fumble and after all, I'm representing a Theatre company... I block the speech, then practice and practice... Perhaps it's my latent desire to be on that stage in a different capacity that drives me to rehearse in this way. There's my little secret again, laid bare! I love reading and language and try to pair adjectives for Tuesday night to vary slightly from the script I have prepared, I scrawl on an index card: "awed by mesmerizing" (that's for Kevin Gray). "deeply moved by poignant yet powerful" (for Jennifer Paz) and the kicker "heart throbs for the passionate" (for Eric Kunze). For this show I enter from the stairs at house right, after working my way backstage. Drinking in that pre-show energy gets me in the right groove - one more sip of water, I grab the mike and go.

-Lisa Grele Barrie
Interim Executive Director

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Saigon Videos on YouTube!

Be sure to visit North Carolina Theatre's YouTube channel for the latest clips from Miss Saigon!

If you haven't seen Miss Saigon yet, you must come see this show! Check out our videos which speak for themselves and remember, we are offering 20% OFF ticket prices when you buy four or more tickets! There are only 8 performances left!

Tuesday, March 24-Friday, March 27: 8 PM
Saturday, March 28: 2 and 8 PM
Sunday, March 29: 2 and 7 PM

Miss Saigon Production Photos

Kevin Gray in "The American Dream"

Jennifer Shrader as "Ellen"

Jennifer Paz as "Kim"

Kevin Gray as "The Engineer"

Jennifer Paz, Marc delaCruz & Timothy Gunawan

Jennifer Paz - "I Still Believe"

Jennifer Paz and Jennifer Shrader sing "I Still Believe"
Photo Credit: Curtis Brown Photography

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Miss Saigon & The Vietnam War

The story of Miss Saigon is set during the Vietnam War. The year is 1975 and the fall of Saigon is looming. Chris, an American soldier, meets Kim, a young Vietnamese woman in 'Dreamland' - a nightclub in Saigon run by The Engineer. They meet weeks before the Americans are forced out of Vietnam during the largest helicopter evaucation recorded in history.

Below is a complete timeline of events leading up to and surrounding the Vietnam War with some references to Miss Saigon!

1890: Nguyen Sinh Cung is born in Central Vietnam; he would grow up to be the leader of the revolt against the French. He took the name Ho Chi Minh ("Bringer of Light") and became a legend among his people

1932: The French government sets up leadership with Vietnamese representatives under their control.

1941: Ho Chi Minh returns to Vietnam to form the Vietminh or Vietnam Independence League, later known as the Vietcong

1946: War begins between French forces and Vietminh

1950: Ho Chi Minh declares that the area under his leadership, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, is the only legal government. His government is now seen as "North Vietnam" and is recognized by the Soviet Union and China. The US and Britain continue to recognize the government in "South Vietnam." The lines for international conflict are drawn - On June 26, President Truman grants $15 million in military aid to the French.

1954: The French forces are badly defeated by the Vietminh at the battle of Dienbienphu. President Eisenhower reaffirms support of South Vietnam with $100 million in aid. US agrees to train South Vietnamese army.

1961-62: US supplies South Vietnam with more equipment and advisers. American advisers increase from 7,000 to 12,000.

1963: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, TX. Lyndon Johnson is now president. By the end of the year 15,000 American military advisers are in South Vietnam and $500 million in aid is given to the South Vietnamese government.

1964: North Vietnamese patrol boats attack the American destroyer Maddox two times in the Tonkin Gulf (the second attack is later disputed). Congress passes Tonkin Gulf resolutions on August 7, giving Johnson extraordinary power to act in Vietnam.

1965: President Johnson initiates Operation Rolling Thunder, which is a sustained bombing of North Vietnam. First troops land in Vietnam on March 8; by December, American troops in Vietnam reach 200,000.

1966-67: Bombing of North Vietnam continues. American troop strength reaches 500,000. Sustained bombing and fighting destroy much of Vietnam, creating a large population of poor and homeless people. Many flee to other cities, where as shown in the first act of Miss Saigon, women are often forced into prostitution. Nguyen Van Thieu, trained in France and the US, becomes President of South Vietnam.

1968: Tet Offensive begins as Vietcong attack South Vietnamese cities and towns. Richard Nixon is elected as US President.

1969: Ho Chi Minh dies in Hanoi at age 79. Massive anti-war demonstrations begin in Washington, DC. Nixon begins gradual withdrawal of American troops.

1970-71: Protests continue in US, while American troop withdrawal continues in Vietnam.

1972: North Vietnam launches increased offensive against South Vietnam. Nixon announces intensification of American bombing of North Vietnam. Nixon is re-elected in a landslide victory.

1973: After nearly 2 years of negotiations, many held in secret, cease-fire agreements between the US and the North Vietnam government, are signed in Paris. The last American troops leave Vietnam on March 29, leaving extensive embassy personnel.

1974: Thieu declares that war has begun again. With American troops gone, Communist forces plan to resume fighting. On August 9, President Nixon resigns in the mist of the Watergate scandal, Gerald Ford becomes President.

1975: Communist forces begin to capture provinces in South Vietnam, moving toward Saigon. President Ford says the war is "finished." Thieu leaves Saigon on April 25.

On April 29, the last Americans leave Saigon in the largest helicopter evacuation ever recorded. A fleet of 70 helicopters fly 1,000 Americans and 6,000 Vietnamese out of Saigon, leaving thousands left behind. This is shown during Act 2 of Miss Saigon.

April 30 - Communist forces take over Saigon, changing the name to "Ho Chi Minh City."

1976: Jimmy Carter is elected US President, pardons most of the 10,000 Vietnam War draft evaders.

1978: North Vietnamese forces, still in control of Saigon, celebrate the Third Anniversary of Reunification, as shown in Act 1 of Miss Saigon.

1982: Vietnam veteran memorial unveiled in Washington, DC on November 11.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Company Manager

Hi. I’m Jeff.

I’m a company manager.

I’ve been working for NCT for two years now and this is my first show as company manager. So far the job has had its fair share of stressful moments (i.e. an actor missing a flight or a middle of the night crisis) but along with them there have also been some really great parts. One part of my job consists of arranging or organizing flights to and from RDU airport. I have to arrange for either myself, an associate, or a taxi to pick up an actor/crew member. It seems as if I spent the better part of 3 days sitting and waiting at the airport.

On one of my last trips I thought about the last scene in “Love Actually.” Hugh Grant is narrating this montage of clips of people greeting each other in an airport. He states, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinions are starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends…. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion, love actually is all around.”

After picking people up from the airport for the past five days, I’ve started to really think about all the people standing outside of baggage claim waiting for their rides. The place is filled with emotion. There are the overtly stressed people, the people who look lost and confused, and then there are the people who look flat out worried. But no matter what those people look like, all those feelings disappear when that ride comes. Smiles and hugs emerge once that familiar face arrives. One of the best examples I can give is a pickup I had this week. I was picking up an actor who had been flown in from California for the show. When I drove up to get him he had this really disoriented look on his face. His eyes were searching through the line of cars, trying to find me. Once he did, his eyes instantly lit up and a smile grew from ear to ear. It was like someone dumped a whole bucket of relief on him; you could see the tension wash away. I got out of my car and hugs and genial banter began. We hurriedly put his bags into the car and hopped in. And as I started the car and began driving, I took one last look at the people. Next time you’re there…take a look and see if you see what I see.

Miss Saigon from the Director's Point of View

Robert McDowell of The Classical Voice of North Carolina interviewed Miss Saigon director, Richard Stafford - see below for the complete interview and detailed information about the show from the director's perspective!

1. When did you first see or read or hear about this musical? Have you ever worked on a previous production of this musical? If so, when and where?

RS: I saw Miss Saigon shortly after it opened on Broadway in 1991. Willie Falk, the original "Chris" was a very good friend of mine which gave the whole experience much more resonance. This will be the first production of Miss Saigon that I have directed.

2. What do you like BEST about this musical? What made you
WANT to direct it?

RS: I've wanted to direct Miss Saigon for a long time now. It is a director's dream show because there's so much to it--epic sweeping story, stunning score and amazing visuals. I'm drawn to the historical back drop of the Vietnam War and the period of great change (the 70's) in our country. Our whole attitude towards war changed because of our experience in Vietnam. It is easy for me to imagine something like the Chris and Kim story being played over and over in different people's lives during that period. All this makes for great theater.

3. Briefly summarize the PLOT of this musical in your own words. Please explain the SITUATION at the start of the musical and how the various CHARACTERS fit in.

RS: The year is 1975 and Kim (Jennifer Paz) has fled her hometown in rural Vietnam for Saigon where she is lured into work as a bar girl in "Dreamland" owned by The Engineer (Kevin Gray). There she meets Chris (Eric Kunze) a Marine who works in the Embassy. They fall in love and Chris vows to take Kim back to America. Saigon is on the verge of invasion by the North Vietnamese Communist regime and Kim and Chris are separated by the ensuing chaos. Chris is airlifted out of Saigon but Kim is left behind where she gives birth to Tam--Chris' son. Three years pass and Chris, with no news of Kim, has married Ellen (Jennifer Shrader). He is plagued with nightmares that he cannot share with Ellen. Through his friend John (Josh Tower) who was with Chris at the Embassy but now works to reunite children of mixed-race left behind in Vietnam, Chris learns that Kim survived and now lives in Bangkok with their son, Tam. Chris and Ellen travel to make contact with Kim and Tam. Kim in learning that Chris is married makes the ultimate sacrifice a mother can make to keep her promise to her son of a better life for him.

4. What MAJOR CHALLENGES does staging this musical present to you as a director -- and to your cast and creative team?

RS: This is a huge show both technically and artistically. Our cast size is 38 and there are 20 different locations. Also, part of the original design is the creation of a 3 sided "box" made of shades that lower and raise to create different looks throughout the show. The timing of these moves will be time consuming. And to recreate the evacuation of Saigon we have a helicopter landing onstage--again a huge technical effect that is very difficult to time and program. The cast must adapt to the stage set in a remarkably short amount of time

5. Please name YOUR CREATIVE TEAM:
Producer: Carolee Baxter
Director: Richard Stafford
Choreographer: Marc Oka
Musical director: Edward G. Robinson
Technical director: Bill Yates, Jr.
Set designer: Scenery designed by Dustin J. Cardwell
Lighting designer: John Bartenstein
Costume designer: Mela Hoyt-Heydon; Costumer: Ann M. Bruskiewitz
Properties master/mistress: La urie Johnson
Sound designer: Nathaniel Hare
Stage manager: Gary Breitbach
Original music by: Claude-Michel Schonberg
and lyrics by: Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil
Other: m. Originally Produced on the stage by Cameron Mackintosh

6. Please describe the SET:

RS: In addition to the description above, the set pieces are stylistic and moveable by actors throughout. These pieces represent bars, Saigon streets, hotel rooms, bedrooms, ceremony houses, inside and outside the American embassy.

7. Please describe the LIGHTING:

RS: The lighting will be an integral element to the design of the show. It will be naturalistic in some scenes and showy and excitingly theatrical in others. We will be using smoke, haze and dry ice effects.

8. Please describe the COSTUMES:

RS: The costumes are all based on the traditional Vietnamese garments worn by the people of the time as well as American military clothes and American outfits of the 70s.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kevin Gray Interview on Y102.9

On Thursday morning, Kevin Gray who is starring as "The Engineer" in Miss Saigon was interviewed by Jim Harrison on Y102.9's morning show. To hear the full interview, visit!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Saigon Stars Eric Kunze & Jennifer Paz on the Radio

Dave Kent of 93.9 KISS FM interviewed Eric Kunze and Jennifer Paz yesterday morning! An excerpt of the interview can be found at

In case you need a refresher, Eric Kunze is starring as Chris and Jennifer Paz is starring as Kim in Miss Saigon. They are currently in rehearsals with the full company and open next Saturday, March 21st in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium!

For show details, visit

Monday, March 9, 2009

Miss Saigon Load-in Pictures

Full company reherasals for Miss Saigon start today! The cast is here and ready to start putting the show together. On Saturday, the set arrived from Fullerton Civic Light Opera. Check out the pictures below as our crew gets out some exciting set pieces - including the 'copter and the original 1959 pink Cadillac car! The set will stay in the warehouse until Monday, March 16th and from there will be taken to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.

The actors will rehearse at our studios this week and will move to the theatre on Tuesday, March 17th - where they will only rehearse for 3 full days before Student Preview Night on Friday, March 20th!

Playing on the peddicab

Putting the helicopter together

warehouse shot

shot of the helicopter

another helicopter picture

the helicopter coming off the truck!

more helicopter

the helicopter before it comes off the truck

the embassy fence

the crew!

Bill Yates, Jr. - our fabulous technical director

the car!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Student Preview Night @ North Carolina Theatre

If you don't already know, NC Theatre offers a special Student Preview Night for students and teachers on the Friday night before each show opens. Our first Student Preview Night for 2009 is Friday, March 20th at 7 PM for Miss Saigon! Tickets are only $10 for ANY student or teacher - all you have to do is bring your student or teacher ID and you are good to go!

You may purchase tickets at the NC Theatre Box Office located in the basement of Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in downtown Raleigh (One East South Street, 27601) OR the night of the show in the box office in the lobby of Raleigh Memorial Auditorium beginning at 6 PM.

We also have made a study guide to go along with each show in our 2009 season. To download it, please click here. Show this to your teacher and maybe they will give you extra credit for coming to the show!

Season tickets for Student Preview Night are only $46 for the entire year - and you get to keep your same seats! Call the NCT Box Office at 919-831-6941 x6944 to buy season tickets!

Upcoming Student Preview Nights:
Disney's High School Musical 2: Friday, June 12th at 7 PM ($16/ticket)
The Sound of Music: Friday, July 24th at 7 PM ($10/ticket)
West Side Story: Friday, October 16th at 7 PM ($10/ticket)