Miss Saigon

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Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon is one of those stories that everybody knows. In-between tales of dragons and princesses, everyone remembers the American GI and Vietnamese bargirl who fell in love during the final days of the Vietnam War. It’s a story we all know, or are at least familiar with, but for producer Peter Wills the decision to choose the production wasn’t as easy as you’d think.
“It’s been a show that we’ve long wanted to do, but the issue has been the casting,” Peter says. “It’s a hard one to cast – the lead roles are extremely big roles so finding people that can do both them is a big challenge. There’s also the multi-ethnic cast as well, so that’s sort of been in the back of our minds in the past when we’ve thought of doing it.”
After a long time of mapping out the issues, Footlight Productions, the theatre company established by Peter and his wife Margaret in 2003, will “bite the bullet” and show Miss Saigon at the end of this month.
As the curtains open on January 23 for the first performance, it’s not only the first show for the run of dates but the first time the Vietnamese story has been told in Geelong in general. Realising the importance of this milestone, Peter has enlisted the whole cast and crew to do research of the time they are meant to be portraying.
“All of the cast and the production staff have done a lot of research with the actual factual events at the time. They’ve done a lot of reading and we’ve looked at a couple of documentaries as a group, so they’re very aware of what was factual and what happened,” he says.
Through their knowledge learnt, lighting, costume design and rigorously selected cast, the production will give a clear depiction of where the story is located. Peter is pretty proud of the high quality the team has been able to achieve in the show, and while they mightn’t have the budget of Melbourne theatres, he still puts the Geelong show on par – if not higher – with many of the Melbourne shows.
“The crowd will just be so impressed by the standard of every aspect of the production. As I’ve said, everyone has worked so hard and the standard is as good as you’ll see anywhere for non-professional theatre, and in some cases it’s probably better than professional theatre. It’s going to be of an extremely high standard,” Peter gushes.
“I think more and more people are coming to see shows in Geelong and realising that the standard is quite high and why travel up the highway when we’ve got such good things happening here?”
With the ease of confidence and delight Peter has with the show and the cast overall, there’s no question as to whether or not Miss Saigon will be a success. The only thing left to do is to come along and witness the Geelong milestone for the Footlight Productions show of the Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil classic. Tickets are available now from GPAC.
When&Where: GPAC – From January 23
By Amanda Sherring