Miss Saigon
Original poster
MusicClaude-Michel Schönberg
  • Alain Boublil
    Claude-Michel Schönberg
BasisMadame Butterfly
by Giacomo Puccini
PremiereSeptember 20, 1989: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London

Miss Saigon is a stage musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby Jr. It is based on Giacomo Puccini's 1904 opera Madama Butterfly, and similarly tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover. The setting of the plot is relocated to 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War, and Madame Butterfly's story of marriage between an American lieutenant and a geisha is replaced by a romance between a United States Marine and a seventeen-year-old South Vietnamese bargirl.

The musical premièred at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on 20 September 1989, closing after 4,092 performances on 30 October 1999. It opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on April 11, 1991 with a record advance of over $39 million,[1] and was later staged in many other cities and embarked on tours. Prior to the opening of the 2014 London revival, it was said that Miss Saigon had set a world record for opening day ticket sales, with sales in excess of £4m reported.[2][3]

The musical was Schönberg and Boublil's second major success, following Les Misérables in 1985. As of October 2022, Miss Saigon remains Broadway's fourteenth longest-running show.[4]


The musical was inspired by a photograph, which Schönberg found inadvertently in a magazine. It showed a Vietnamese mother leaving her child at a departure gate at Tan Son Nhut Air Base to board an airplane headed for the United States where the child's father, an ex-GI, would be in a position to provide a much better life for the child. Schönberg considered this mother's actions for her child to be "The Ultimate Sacrifice," an idea central to the plot of Miss Saigon.[5]

Highlights of the show include the evacuation of the last Americans in Saigon from the Embassy roof by helicopter[6] while a crowd of abandoned Vietnamese people scream in despair, the victory parade of the new communist regime, and the frenzied night club scene at the time of defeat.

Cast of principal characters

Character Voice Type Description
Kim Mezzo-soprano


A seventeen-year-old Vietnamese girl, recently orphaned and forced to work at "Dreamland." She corresponds to Butterfly in the original opera.
Chris Scott Baritenor

A2–G4 (falsetto B4)

An American Marine sergeant about to leave Saigon to return to America. He corresponds to Pinkerton.
Engineer Baritone


The sleazy hustler and owner of "Dreamland." He is half-Vietnamese and half-French. He corresponds to Goro.
Ellen Mezzo-soprano


Chris's American wife. She corresponds to Kate.
John Thomas Tenor


Chris's friend, also a Marine. He corresponds to Sharpless.
Thuy Tenor


Kim's cousin and betrothed, to whom Kim's parents promised her when the two were thirteen. Has since become an officer in the Communist Vietnamese government. He is a composite character, corresponding in part to both The Bonze and Prince Yamadori.
Gigi Van Tranh Mezzo-soprano


A hardened Saigon stripper; initially voted as "Miss Saigon".
Tam Kim and Chris's three-year-old son. He corresponds to Dolore, or "Sorrow".


Act 1

In April 1975 at "Dreamland", a Saigon bar and brothel, shortly before the end of the Vietnam War, it is Kim's first day as a bargirl. The seventeen-year-old peasant girl is hauled in by the Engineer, a French-Vietnamese hustler who owns the joint. Backstage, the girls ready themselves for the night's show, jeering at Kim's inexperience ("Overture / Backstage Dreamland"). The U.S. Marines, aware that they will soon be leaving Vietnam, party with the Vietnamese sex workers ("The Heat Is on in Saigon"). Chris Scott, a sergeant disenchanted by the club scene, is encouraged by his friend John Thomas to go with a girl.

The girls compete for the title of "Miss Saigon", and the winner is raffled to a Marine. Kim's guilelessness strikes Chris. Gigi Van Tranh wins the crown for the evening and begs the marine who won the raffle to take her back to America, annoying him. The showgirls reflect on their dreams of a better life ("Movie in My Mind"). John buys a room for Chris and the virgin Kim ("The Transaction"). Kim is reluctant and shy, but dances with Chris, who tries to pay her to leave the nightclub. When the Engineer interferes, thinking that Chris does not like Kim, Chris allows himself to be led to her room ("The Dance").

Chris, watching Kim sleep, asks God why he met her just as he was about to leave Vietnam ("Why, God, Why?"). When Kim wakes up, Chris tries to give her money, but she refuses, saying that it is her first time sleeping with a man ("This Money's Yours"). Touched to learn that Kim is an orphan, Chris offers to take her to America with him, and the two fall in love ("Sun and Moon"). Chris tells John that he is taking leave to spend time with Kim. John warns him that the Viet Cong will soon take Saigon, but then reluctantly agrees to cover for Chris ("The Telephone Song"). Chris meets with the Engineer to trade for Kim, but the Engineer tries to include an American visa in the deal. Threatening the Engineer at gunpoint, Chris forces him to honor the original arrangement for Kim ("The Deal").

The bargirls hold a "wedding ceremony" for Chris and Kim ("Dju Vui Vai"), with Gigi toasting Kim as the "real" Miss Saigon. Thuy, Kim's cousin, to whom she was betrothed at thirteen, arrives to take her home. He has since become an officer in the North Vietnamese Army and is disgusted to find her with a white man ("Thuy's Arrival"). The two men confront each other, drawing their firearms. Kim tells Thuy that their arranged marriage is now nullified because her parents are dead, and she no longer harbors any feelings for him because of his betrayal. Thuy curses them all and storms out ("What's This I Find"). Chris promises to take Kim with him when he leaves Vietnam. Chris and Kim dance to the same song as on their first night ("Last Night of The World").

Three years later, in 1978, a street parade is taking place in Saigon (since renamed Ho Chi Minh City) to celebrate the third anniversary of the reunification of Vietnam and the defeat of the Americans ("The Morning of The Dragon"). Thuy, now a commissar in the new Communist government, has ordered his soldiers to look for the still-corrupt Engineer. For the Communist Party, he goes by the name "Tran Van Dinh" and has spent the past three years working in the rice fields as part of a re-education program. Thuy orders the Engineer to find Kim and bring her to him. Although the intervening period is not shown, it is apparent that Kim and Chris have become separated in the three years separating the two acts. Kim has been hiding in an impoverished area, still in love with Chris and steadfastly believing that Chris will return to Vietnam and rescue her. Meanwhile, Chris is in bed with his new American wife, Ellen, when he wakes from a dream shouting Kim's name. Ellen and Kim both swear their devotion to Chris from opposite ends of the world ("I Still Believe").

The Engineer takes Thuy to where Kim has been hiding. Kim refuses Thuy's renewed offer of marriage, unaware that his men are waiting outside the door. Furious, Thuy calls them in and they begin tying up Kim and the Engineer, threatening to put them into a re-education camp. Again, Kim refuses to go with Thuy and shocks him by introducing Thuy to Tam, her three-year-old son from Chris ("Coo-Coo Princess"). Thuy calls Kim a traitor and Tam an enemy, and tries to kill Tam with a knife, but Kim is forced to shoot Thuy to protect Tam ("You Will Not Touch Him"). Thuy dies as the street parade continues nearby ("This Is the Hour"), with Kim showing horror and heartbreak at her action, before fleeing with Tam.

The Engineer laments being born Vietnamese and wishes to go to the USA ("If You Want to Die in Bed"). Kim tells the Engineer what she has done, and he learns that Tam's father is American ("Let Me See His Western Nose") – thinking the boy is his chance to emigrate to the United States. He tells Kim that now he is the boy's uncle, and he will lead them to Bangkok. As Kim swears to Tam that she would do anything to give him a better life, the three set out on a ship with other refugees ("I'd Give My Life for You").

Act 2

In Atlanta, Georgia, John now works for an aid organization whose mission is to connect Bui-Doi (from Vietnamese trẻ bụi đời "street children," meaning children conceived during the war) with their American fathers ("Bui Doi"). John tells Chris that Kim is still alive, which Chris is relieved to hear after years of having nightmares of her dying. He also tells Chris about Tam and urges Chris to go to Bangkok with Ellen, and Chris then finally tells Ellen about Kim and Tam ("The Revelation"). In Bangkok, the Engineer is hawking a sleazy club where Kim works as a dancer ("What A Waste"). Chris, Ellen, and John arrive in search of Kim. John finds Kim dancing at the club, and tells her that Chris is also in Bangkok. He then tries to tell her that Chris is remarried, but Kim interrupts. She is thrilled about the news and tells Tam that his father has arrived, believing that they are to go to America with Chris. Seeing Kim happy, John cannot bring himself to break the news to her, but promises to bring Chris to her ("Please").[a]

The Engineer tells Kim to find Chris herself, because he doubts that Chris will come ("Chris Is Here"). Kim is haunted by the ghost of Thuy, who taunts Kim, claiming that Chris will betray her as he did the night Saigon fell. Kim suffers a horrible flashback to that night ("Kim's Nightmare").

In the nightmare and flashback to 1975, Kim remembers the Viet Cong approaching Saigon. As the city becomes increasingly chaotic, Chris is called to the embassy and leaves his gun with Kim, telling her to pack. When Chris enters the embassy, the gates close, as orders arrive from Washington for an immediate evacuation of the remaining Americans. The Ambassador orders that no more Vietnamese be allowed into the Embassy. Kim reaches the gates of the Embassy, one in a crowd of terrified Vietnamese trying to enter. Chris calls to Kim and is about to go into the crowd to look for her. John is eventually forced to punch Chris in the face to stop him from leaving. Chris is put into the last helicopter leaving Saigon as Kim watches from outside, still pledging her love to him ("The Fall of Saigon").

Back in 1978 Bangkok, Kim joyfully dresses in her wedding clothes ("Sun and Moon [Reprise]") and leaves the Engineer to watch Tam while she is gone. She goes to Chris's hotel room, where she finds Ellen. Ellen reveals that she is Chris's wife. While Kim is heartbroken and initially in denial about the truth, she soon confirms to Ellen that Tam is Chris's son, and says that she does not want her son to continue living on the streets, pleading that they take Tam with them back to America, but Ellen refuses, saying that Tam needs his real mother, and Ellen wants her own children with Chris. Kim angrily demands that Chris tell her these things in person, and runs out of the room ("Room 317"). Ellen feels bad for Kim, but is determined to keep Chris ("Now That I've Seen Her").[b]

Chris and John return, having failed to find Kim. Ellen tells them both that Kim arrived and that she had to tell Kim everything. Chris and John blame themselves, realizing that they were gone too long. Ellen also tells them that Kim wants to see Chris at her place, and that she tried to give away her son to them. John realizes that Kim wants Tam to be "an American boy." Ellen then issues an ultimatum to Chris: Kim or her. Chris reassures Ellen, and they pledge their love for each other. Chris and Ellen agree to leave Tam and Kim in Bangkok but offer them monetary support from America, while John decries their decision as selfish ("The Confrontation"). Back at the club, Kim tells the Engineer that they are still going to America ("Paper Dragons"). The Engineer imagines the extravagant new life that he will lead in America ("The American Dream"). Chris, John, and Ellen find the Engineer and he takes them to see Kim and Tam.

In her room, Kim tells Tam that he should be happy because he now has a father. She tells him that she cannot go with him but will be watching over him ("This Is the Hour [Reprise]").[c] Chris, Ellen, John, and the Engineer arrive just outside her room. The Engineer comes in to take Tam outside to introduce him to his father. While this is happening, Kim steps behind a curtain and shoots herself. As she falls to the floor, Chris rushes into the room at the sound of the gunshot and finds Kim mortally wounded. He picks up Kim and asks what she has done. Replying that the gods guided him to his son, Kim asks Chris to hold her once more and they share one last kiss. Kim then repeats something that he said to her on the first night they met: "How in one night have we come so far?", and dies in Chris's arms as everyone watches ("Finale").

Musical numbers

Production history

West End (1989–1999)

Miss Saigon premiered in the West End at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 20 September 1989 and closed after 4,264 performances on 30 October 1999.[7] The director was Nicholas Hytner with musical staging by Bob Avian and scenic design by John Napier. In December 1994, the London production became the Theatre Royal's (Drury Lane) longest running musical, eclipsing the record set by My Fair Lady.[8]

Lea Salonga played the part of Kim, winning the Laurence Olivier Award and Tony Award. The Engineer was portrayed by Jonathan Pryce, who also won the Laurence Olivier Award and Tony Award for the role. The part of Chris was originally played by Simon Bowman.

Broadway (1991–2001)

The musical débuted on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on 11 April 1991 and closed on 28 January 2001 after 4,092 performances. Directed again by Nicholas Hytner with musical staging by Bob Avian, scenic design was by John Napier, costume design was by Andreane Neofitou and Suzy Benzinger and lighting design was by David Hersey.[9] As of October 2022, Miss Saigon is the 14th longest-running Broadway musical.[4]

West End revival (2014–2016)

Preview performances for the anticipated West End revival in the show's 25th year began in early May 2014 at the Prince Edward Theatre.[10][11] It was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Laurence Connor. The official opening night was 21 May.

On 22 September 2014, a special 25th anniversary gala performance was held. After a full performance of the current show, Lea Salonga, Simon Bowman, Jonathan Pryce and many of the original 1989 cast joined with the current cast for a special finale. The finale started with Lea Salonga leading the ensemble with "This is the Hour", Salonga and Rachelle Ann Go performed "The Movie in My Mind". Salonga, Simon Bowman, Alistair Brammer and Eva Noblezada performed "Last Night of the World" before Jonathan Pryce took to the stage for "The American Dream" and was later joined by Jon Jon Briones.[12] The West End production closed on 27 February 2016 after 760 performances.

Broadway revival (2017–2018)

It was announced on November 19, 2015 that the West End production of the show would transfer to Broadway in March 2017 for a limited engagement through January 15, 2018. The production starred Eva Noblezada as Kim, Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer, Alistair Brammer as Chris, and Rachelle Ann Go as Gigi, all reprising their roles from the 2014 West End revival. Other cast members included Katie Rose Clarke as Ellen, Nicholas Christopher as John, and Devin Ilaw as Thuy.[13] The revival played at the Broadway Theatre, the same venue the show played at for its Broadway debut.[14] Preview performances began on March 1, 2017, with an official opening on March 23.[14][15] The final performance was on January 14, 2018.

Other productions

Since its opening in London, Miss Saigon was staged in many cities around the world including Tokyo, Stuttgart, The Hague, and Toronto, where new theatres were designed specifically to house the show.

Miss Saigon opened in Australia at the Capitol Theatre Sydney on 29 July 1995, starring Joanna Ampil as Kim, Peter Cousens as Chris, Cocoy Laurel as The Engineer, Milton Craig Nealy as John, Darren Yap as Thuy, and Silvie Paladino as Ellen.

In the small island community of Bømlo, Norway with around eleven thousand inhabitants, the show was set up in the outdoor amphitheatre by the local musical fellowship and ran from 5 August to 16 August 2009. The local musical fellowship brought in a Bell helicopter for the show.[16][17]

Miss Saigon has been performed by 27 companies in 25 countries and 246 cities, and it has been translated into twelve languages.[18] Arlington, Virginia's Signature Theatre 2013's production was the US debut with the inclusion of the new song "Maybe" (which replaced the prior song 'Now That I've Seen Her') which was integrated into the West End's 2014 revival.[19]

In 2023 it was announced that there would be a non-replica UK revival of Miss Saigon, produced by Sheffield theatres and staged at The Crucible Theatre. The production stars Joanna Ampil as The Engineer.

The new production of Miss Saigon at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne


The first US tour started in Chicago, Illinois in October 1992 and was then expected to travel to those cities that could accommodate the large production. The tour also played venues such as the Wang Center in Boston from 14 July to 12 September 1993,[20] the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Florida in spring 1994,[21] and the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC in June 1994.[22] Cameron Mackintosh said, "Corners haven't been cut. They've been added. There are only a dozen theaters in America where we can do this."[23]

A second national US tour launched in Seattle in early 1995 and closed in August 2000 in Buffalo, New York, after playing engagements in most major US and Canadian markets, including Honolulu, San Francisco, Toronto, and return engagements in Boston (twice), Chicago and West Palm Beach. The tour originally starred Deedee Magno Hall as Kim (replaced by Kristine Remigio, Kym Hoy and Mika Nishida), Thom Sesma as The Engineer (replaced by Joseph Anthony Foronda), and Matt Bogart as Chris (replaced by Will Chase, Steven Pasquale, Greg Stone and Will Swenson).

After the London production closed in 1999 and also following the closure of the Broadway production in 2001, the show in its original London staging embarked on a long tour of the six largest venues in Britain and Ireland, stopping off in each city for several months. The tour starring Joanna Ampil, Niklas Andersson and Leo Valdez opened at the Palace Theatre, Manchester and also played in the Birmingham Hippodrome, the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, the Edinburgh Playhouse, the Bristol Hippodrome and The Point Theatre in Dublin.[24] This successful tour drew to a close in 2003 and a brand new production was developed by original producer Cameron Mackintosh on a smaller scale so that the show could be accommodated in smaller theatres. This tour started in July 2004 and ended in June 2006.[25]

A non-Equity North American tour began in summer 2002 to spring 2005, playing such venues as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark, New Jersey in November 2003, Raleigh, North Carolina in February 2005, and Gainesville, Florida in November 2003.[26][27][28]

A third UK tour for 2017/2018 opened at the Curve in Leicester, and also toured to the Birmingham Hippodrome, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin, the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton and the Palace Theatre in Manchester.[29]

Another US tour began at Providence Performing Arts Center in September 2018. The tour closed early on March 15, 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[30]


Character Original West End Original Broadway Original U.S. Tour Original U.K. Tour West End Revival Broadway Revival
1989 1991 1992 2001 2014 2017
Kim Lea Salonga Jennie Kwan Joanna Ampil Eva Noblezada
The Engineer Jonathan Pryce Raul Aranas Leo Valdez Jon Jon Briones
Chris Simon Bowman Willy Falk Jarrod Emick Niklas Andersson Alistair Brammer
John Peter Polycarpou Hinton Battle Keith Byron Kirk Kingsley Leggs Hugh Maynard Nicholas Christopher
Ellen Claire Moore Liz Callaway Christiane Noll Nicky Adams Tamsin Carroll Katie Rose Clarke
Thuy Keith Burns Barry Bernal Allen Hong Robert Vicencio Kwang-Ho Hong Devin Ilaw
Gigi Isay Alvarez Marina Chapa Moon Hi Hanson Emma Jay Thomas Rachelle Ann Go

Notable replacements

West End (1989–1999)

Broadway (1991–2001)

U.S. Tour (1992–2000)

West End revival (2014–2016)


Main article: Miss Saigon controversy

Hubert van Es, a Dutch photojournalist who took the most famous image of the fall of Saigon in 1975 (a group of people scaling a ladder to a CIA helicopter on a rooftop), considered legal action when his photograph was used in Miss Saigon.[31]

Casting controversies

Miss Saigon has received criticism for its whitewashing as well as racist or sexist overtones, including protests regarding its portrayal of Asians and women in general.[32] Originally, Pryce and Burns, white actors playing Eurasian/Asian characters, wore eye prostheses and bronzing cream to make themselves look more Asian,[33] which outraged some who drew comparisons to a "minstrel show".[34] The American scholar Yutian Wong noted when Miss Saigon premiered on the West End in 1989, reviews in British newspapers such as the Daily Mail, The Times, and the Evening Standard were uniformly positive as British theater critics did not find anything objectionable about the opera. The controversy about Miss Saigon only began in 1990 with the prospect of it appearing on Broadway, which Wong argued was because the United States has a much larger East Asian population than does the United Kingdom.[35]

In the London production of Miss Saigon, Lea Salonga originally starred as Kim, with Jonathan Pryce as the Engineer. When the production transferred from London to New York City, the Actors' Equity Association (AEA) refused to allow Pryce, a white actor, to portray the role of the Engineer, a Eurasian pimp, in the United States. The playwright David Henry Hwang and the actor B.D Wong wrote public letters of protest against Pryce's casting.[36] Both Hwang and Wong had seen Miss Saigon on the West End of London, and felt Pryce's performance as the Engineer was demeaning to Asian people.[36] In the London production, Pryce had performed the role in yellowface, wearing prosethetics to alter the shape of his eyes and makeup to alter the color of his skin.[37] As Alan Eisenberg, executive secretary of Actors' Equity explained: "The casting of a Caucasian actor made up to appear Asian is an affront to the Asian community. The casting choice is especially disturbing when the casting of an Asian actor in the role would be an important and significant opportunity to break the usual pattern of casting Asians in minor roles."[34] This ruling on 7 August 1990 led to criticism from many, including the British Actors' Equity Association, citing violations of the principles of artistic integrity and freedom. Producer Cameron Mackintosh threatened to cancel the show, despite massive advance ticket sales.[36][38]

Though there had been a large, well-publicised international search among Asian actresses to play Kim, there had been no equivalent search for Asian actors to play the major Asian male roles—specifically, those of the Engineer (Pryce) and Thuy (Keith Burns).[39] The American scholar Angelica Pao noted that in the first production of Miss Saigon on the West End, Macintosh went out of his way to cast Asian actresses to play the Vietnamese women, arguing that this was necessary to provide authenticity, but he was content to cast white actors as Vietnamese men.[40] However, others pointed out that since the Engineer's character was Eurasian (French-Vietnamese), they argued that Pryce was being discriminated against on the basis that he was white. Also, Pryce was considered by many in Europe to have "star status", a clause that allows a well-known foreign actor to recreate a role on Broadway without an American casting call.[34] After pressure from Mackintosh, the general public, and many of its own members, Actors' Equity reversed its decision. Pryce starred alongside Salonga and Willy Falk (as Chris) when the show opened on Broadway.[41][42][43]

During the production transfer from West End to Broadway, a lesser controversy erupted over Salonga's citizenship, as she was Filipina, and the AEA wanted to give priority to its own members, initially preventing her from reprising her role. However, Mackintosh was unable to find a satisfactory replacement for Salonga despite the extensive auditions that he conducted in several American and Canadian cities. An arbitrator reversed the AEA ruling a month later to allow Salonga to star.[44]

Revived productions of Miss Saigon have been subject to boycotts from Asian actors.[45]

Orientalism, racism, and misogyny

Internationally, community members objected to productions of the show over the years, arguing the show is racist and misogynistic. The 2010 Fulbright Hayes Scholar D Hideo Maruyama states: "it's time to see the real Vietnam, not the Miss Saigon version. Whether or not America is ready to see the real one is up to question."[46] American artist and activist Mai Neng Moua stated: "I protested Miss Saigon back in 1994 when the Ordway first brought it to town. I was a college student at St. Olaf and had never protested anything before. I didn't know what to say or do. I was scared people would yell or throw things at me. Then I met Esther Suzuki, a Japanese American woman whose family survived the racist U.S. policy of internment camps. Esther was about my size – which is small – but she was fearless. Esther protested Miss Saigon because, she better than anyone, understood Dr. King's "No one is free until we all are free." I stood with Esther, protesting Miss Saigon, and drew strength from her. We protested Miss Saigon because it was racist, sexist, and offensive to us as Asian Americans. Nineteen years later, this hasn't changed."[47] Vietnamese American activist Denise Huynh recounts her experience attending the production and the stereotypes making her feel physically ill.[48]

Sarah Bellamy, co-artistic director of the Penumbra Theatre, dedicated to African American theater, stated: "It gets a lot easier to wrap your head around all of this for folks of color when we remember a key point: this work is not for us. It is by, for, and about white people, using people of color, tropical climes, pseudo-cultural costumes and props, violence, tragedy, and the commodification of people and cultures, to reinforce and re-inscribe a narrative about white supremacy and authority."[49]

The American scholar Yutian Wong described Miss Saigon as promoting the image of "an effeminized and infantized Asia serving as a low-budget whorehouse for the West".[50] The fact that the Vietnam war impoverished many Vietnamese people, and forced many women to turn to prostitution in order to survive is not mentioned in Miss Saigon, and establishments such as the fictional Dreamland brothel are portrayed as the norm in Vietnam.[50] In 1999, when Miss Saigon was closing in London, a new advertising campaign was launched on the Tube featuring posters reading "You'll miss Saigon" that showed an Asian woman wearing a military jacket showing some cleavage, which Wong felt sent the message that "Asia equals prostitution".[51]

American scholar Karen Shimakawa argued that the romance between the Marine Chris with Kim was intended as a message by Boublil and Schönberg about the legitimacy and justice of the Vietnam war with the submissive Kim looking up to Chris to protect and save her from her own people.[52] The wedding between Chris and Kim is seen by the former as a mere spectacle for him to enjoy rather than representing a binding commitment on his part to Kim, and he is very surprised to learn later on that Kim considers him to be her husband, an aspect of his character that he is not criticized for.[53] Instead, Ellen explains to Kim that under American law she is Chris's wife, and Kim just merely accepts the supremacy of American law over Vietnamese law, which Shimakawa argued represents the viewpoint that Vietnam is merely just a place that provides exotic spectacles for Chris and other Americans to enjoy.[53]

The Trinidadian-Canadian critic Richard Fung wrote in 1994: "If Miss Saigon were the only show about sexually available Asian women and money-grubbing Asian men, it wouldn't be a stereotype and there would be no protest—negative portrayals per se are not a problem".[54] Fung argued that the way in which films, television and plays repeated such stereotypes ad nauseam had a damaging effect on the self-esteem of Asian-Americans, especially Asian-American women.[54]

The Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin had planned to host a touring production of Miss Saigon in April 2019 and had scheduled a panel discussion to showcase Asian American perspectives on the musical's treatment of Asian characters.[55] The Center then postponed the panel discussion indefinitely, prompting a teach-in by the panel's organizers and scheduled speakers. "Shame on Overture for making a profit off the bodies of Asian bodies and Asian lives", said Nancy Vue of Freedom Inc. "If you are a white woman, you should be outraged because this play pits white woman against Asian women. You should be outraged that it does that because we ought to be working together."[56]


Character The Original Cast Recording The Complete Symphonic Recording The Definitive Live Recording
Kim Lea Salonga Joanna Ampil Eva Noblezada
The Engineer Jonathan Pryce Kevin Gray Jon Jon Briones
Chris Simon Bowman Peter Cousens Alistair Brammer
John Peter Polycarpou Hinton Battle Hugh Maynard
Ellen Claire Moore Ruthie Henshall Tamsin Carroll
Thuy Keith Burns Charles Azulay Kwang-Ho Hong
Gigi Isay Alvarez Sonia Swaby Rachelle Ann Go

Critical response

The Village Voice critic Michael Feingold despised "Miss Saigon", describing it as "implausible", "trite and savorless", "a trick of exploitation", and worse.[57]

By contrast, reviewing the original Broadway production, Frank Rich for the New York Times felt the musical was "a gripping entertainment of the old school...Among other pleasures, it offers lush melodies, spectacular performances...and a good cry". Rich argued that the lyrics were sometimes shallow and the characters of Chris and Ellen rather vague, but that the power of the music and the lead performances of Salonga and Pryce made the audience forget those issues.[58]

Awards and nominations

Though the show has received awards and acclaim, it lost the Best Musical Award at the 1989/1990 Laurence Olivier Awards to Return to the Forbidden Planet in London.[59]

Upon its Broadway opening in 1991 the musical was massively hyped as the best musical of the year, both critically and commercially. It broke several Broadway records, including a record advance-ticket sales at $24 million, highest priced ticket at $100, and repaying investors in fewer than 39 weeks.[60]

Miss Saigon and The Will Rogers Follies led the 1991 Tony Award nominations with eleven nominations. According to The New York Times, "Will Rogers and Miss Saigon had both earned 11 nominations and were considered the front-runners for the Tony as best musical. But many theatre people predicted that Miss Saigon, an import from London, would be the victim of a backlash. There is lingering bitterness against both the huge amount of publicity Miss Saigon has received and the battle by its producer, Cameron Mackintosh, to permit its two foreign stars, Mr. Pryce and the Filipina actress Lea Salonga, to re-create on Broadway their number one award-winning roles."[61]

The show lost to The Will Rogers Follies for several major awards, though Lea Salonga, Jonathan Pryce and Hinton Battle all won awards.

Original West End production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1990 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical Jonathan Pryce Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical Lea Salonga Won
Best Director Nicholas Hytner Nominated

Original Broadway production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1991 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil Nominated
Best Original Score Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Richard Maltby Jr. Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Jonathan Pryce Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Lea Salonga Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Hinton Battle Won
Willy Falk Nominated
Best Choreography Bob Avian Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Nicholas Hytner Nominated
Best Scenic Design John Napier Nominated
Best Lighting Design David Hersey Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Jonathan Pryce Won
Outstanding Actress in a Musical Lea Salonga Won
Outstanding Orchestrations William David Brohn Won
Outstanding Lighting Design David Hersey Won
Theatre World Award Lea Salonga Won

2014 West End revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2015 Laurence Olivier Award Best Musical Revival Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical Jon Jon Briones Nominated

2017 Broadway revival

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2017 Drama League Awards Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical Nominated
Distinguished Performance Eva Noblezada Nominated
Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Actor in a Musical Jon Jon Briones Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Awards Outstanding Revival of a Musical Nominated
Tony Awards Best Revival of a Musical Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical Eva Noblezada Nominated

Film adaptation

On 21 October 2009, a film version of the musical was reported to be in "early stages of development". Producer Paula Wagner was reported to be teaming with the original musical producer Cameron Mackintosh to create a film version of the musical.[62] Filming locations are said to be Cambodia and quite possibly Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon).

Cameron Mackintosh reported that the film version of Miss Saigon depended on whether the Les Misérables film was a success.[63][64] In August 2013, director Lee Daniels announced hopes to get a film adaptation off the ground.[65]

On 27 February 2016, at the closing night of the Miss Saigon London revival, Mackintosh hinted that the film adaptation was close to being produced when he said, "Sooner rather than later, the movie won't just be in my mind". As well as this, the 2014 "25th anniversary" performance of Miss Saigon in London was filmed for an autumn cinema broadcast.[66]

See also


  1. ^ Replaced with "Too Much for One Heart" with the same melody in 2014 London revival
  2. ^ Originally "Her or Me", replaced with "Maybe", with new music and lyrics for the 2011 Dutch revival
  3. ^ Referred to as "Little God of My Heart" on the 2014 London revival recording, though those words are not contained in the lyrics


  1. ^ "'Blvd.' sets tix record at $1.4 mil". Daily Variety. November 22, 1994. p. 11.
  2. ^ Miss Saigon breaks record for biggest single day of sales whatsonstage.com, Retrieved 24 January 2014
  3. ^ Miss Saigon posts £4m first day sales – but is it a record? whatsonstage.com, Retrieved 24 January 2014
  4. ^ a b Hernandez, Ernio (2008-05-28). "Long Runs on Broadway". Celebrity Buzz: Insider Info. Playbill, Inc. Archived from the original on 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2013-09-03.
  5. ^ Schönberg, Claude-Michel. "This Photograph was for Alain and I the start of everything...", October 1995. Archived 2011-08-21 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2007 – December 15.
  6. ^ Cohen, Robert; Sherman, Donovan (2020). Theatre: Brief Edition (Twelfth ed.). New York, NY. p. 244. ISBN 978-1-260-05738-6. OCLC 1073038874.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ " "Long Runs-West End" Archived 2010-04-02 at the Wayback Machine world-theatres.com, retrieved February 23, 2010
  8. ^ "Theatre Royal, Drury Lane history-partial reference" arthurlloyd.co.uk, retrieved February 23, 2010
  9. ^ ​Miss Saigon​ at the Internet Broadway DatabaseRetrieved on 2007 – December 15.
  10. ^ Breaking News: Confirmed! Cameron Mackintosh to Restage MISS SAIGON in 2014 broadwayworld.com, accessed December 9, 2012
  11. ^ BREAKING NEWS: It's Finally Official! MISS SAIGON to Return to West End in May 2014 at Prince Edward Theatre! broadwayworld.com Retrieved June 19, 2013
  12. ^ "Miss Saigon gala celebrates 25th anniversary!". cameronmackintosh.com. Archived from the original on 2015-02-09. Retrieved 2014-10-03.
  13. ^ "MISS SAIGON The Musical | Official Broadway Site | Cast/Creative". Miss Saigon on Broadway. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  14. ^ a b "The American Dream! MISS SAIGON Will Land at Original Broadway Home This Spring". Broadwayworld.com. 2016-08-04. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  15. ^ "Read Reviews for the Broadway Revival of 'Miss Saigon' " Playbill, March 23, 2017
  16. ^ "bml.no".
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2011-02-05.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Facts and Figures" Archived 2011-08-21 at the Wayback Machine miss-saigon.com, accessed September 7, 2009
  19. ^ Paul Harris (2013-09-03). "Regional Legit Review: 'Miss Saigon'". Variety.
  20. ^ Taylor, Markland. "Wang Boasts Bang-Up B.O.", Variety, October 4, 1993 – October 10, 1993, p.74
  21. ^ Erstein, Hap. "Miss Saigon' Is Critics' Choice For Best Actor, Actress And Tour", Palm Beach Post (Florida), June 15, 1994, p.5D
  22. ^ (no author)."ROAD GROSSES:B.0. even at $ 12.3 mil", Variety, June 27, 1994 – July 3, 1994. p. 92
  23. ^ Stearns, David Patrick. "'Saigon' retools for the road", USA Today, November 11, 1992 p.4D
  24. ^ "Production of Miss Saigon | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 2022-09-06.
  25. ^ "Miss Saigon" Official Site, article on the UK 2003 tour and the "new" 2004 revised tour production Archived 2011-08-20 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ McDowell, Robert W."REVIEW: Broadway Series South: Miss Saigon Superbly Dramatizes the Fall of Saigon and Its Horrific Aftermath" Classical Voice of North Carolina, February 17, 2005
  27. ^ Rendell, Bob."Miss Saigon Lands at NJPAC" talkinbroadway.com, Nov 6, 2003
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  29. ^ "Miss Saigon tour" Archived 2016-03-07 at the Wayback Machine, miss-saigon.com, retrieved February 27, 2016
  30. ^ Ltd, Feast Creative. "Miss Saigon | The Official Website". www.miss-saigon.com. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  31. ^ "Photographer who took famous Vietnam war image dies". The Guardian. 15 May 2009.
  32. ^ Steinberg, Avi. "Group targets Asian stereotypes in hit musical," Boston Globe, January 2005. Archived 2012-04-30 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2007 – December 15.
  33. ^ Behr, Edward, and Mark Steyn. The Story of Miss Saigon. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1991.
  34. ^ a b c Rothstein, Mervyn (8 August 1990). "Union Bars White in Asian Role; Broadway May Lose 'Miss Saigon". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2012-04-22.
  35. ^ Wong 2011, p. 236.
  36. ^ a b c Shimakawa 2002, p. 44.
  37. ^ Paulson, Michael (2017-03-17). "The Battle of 'Miss Saigon': Yellowface, Art and Opportunity". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  38. ^ Corliss, Richard (20 August 1990). "Will Broadway Miss Saigon?". Time. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007.
  39. ^ Shimakawa 2002, p. 45.
  40. ^ Shimakawa 2002, p. 45-46.
  41. ^ "Yellowworld Forums – Yellowface Top Ten". Archived from the original on 2013-10-14. Retrieved 15 December 2007.
  42. ^ Bright Lights Film Journal – Hollywood Yellowface Retrieved on 2007 – December 15. Archived 2009-07-14 at the Portuguese Web Archive
  43. ^ Ito, Robert B. (2 May 2014). ""A Certain Slant": A Brief History of Hollywood Yellowface". Archived from the original on 3 May 2014.
  44. ^ Sternfeld, Jessica (2008). "The Megamusical in the 1990s". The Megamusical. Indiana University Press.
  45. ^ "Call to Boycott Miss Saigon | Stage Whispers". www.stagewhispers.com.au. Retrieved 2021-12-15.
  46. ^ "Tonal Influences".
  47. ^ "The Ordway Still Doesn't Get Sexism and Racism (The Problem With Miss Saigon)". Racialicious. Archived from the original on 2015-09-21.
  48. ^ Huynh, Denise (14 October 2013). "We All Deserve Better". TC Daily Planet.
  49. ^ Bellamy, Sarah. "Establishing Cultural Norms, our Role and Responsibility". TGC Circle. Archived from the original on 2015-10-03.
  50. ^ a b Wong 2011, p. 214.
  51. ^ Wong 2011, p. 198.
  52. ^ Shimakawa 2002, p. 26.
  53. ^ a b Shimakawa 2002, p. 35.
  54. ^ a b Shimakawa 2002, p. 43.
  55. ^ Gordon, Scott. "A "Miss Saigon" discussion implodes at Overture". Tone Madison.
  56. ^ Chappell, Robert. "'We're Not Your Model Minorities.' Asian Americans & Allies Gather Outside Madison Arts Center After Miss Saigon Discussion Cancelled". Fox Valley News.
  57. ^ Michael Feingold, "Heat-Seeking Bomb", The Village Voice, April 23, 1991.
  58. ^ Frank Rich, "Review: 'Miss Saigon' Arrives, From the Old School", The New York Times, April 12, 1991.
  59. ^ Laurence Olivier Awards: Past winners – Musical Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2007 – December 15.
  60. ^ AmerAsians and the Theater Retrieved on 2007 – December 15.
  61. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn. "'Yonker' and 'Will Rogers' Top Tony Awards", The New York Times, June 3, 1991, p. A1
  62. ^ Hetrick, Adam.""The Movie in My Mind": Miss Saigon on Track for Film Treatment" Archived 2012-10-13 at the Wayback Machine, playbill.com, 21 October 2009
  63. ^ "Cameron Mackintosh's Plans for Miss Saigon Movie Hinge on the 'Success' of Les Miz". Broadway.com.
  64. ^ Movies News Desk (26 September 2012). "Cameron Mackintosh Says MISS SAIGON is Next Musical to Hit Big Screen". broadwayworld.com.
  65. ^ Merle Ginsberg & Gary Baum (22 August 2013). "'The Butler' Follow-Up: Lee Daniels Says His Janis Joplin Biopic Is Next". The Hollywood Reporter.
  66. ^ Broadway World, 28 February 2016. "Miss Saigon team speaks at Final London Performance"