Great technical sound design, Bombastic, Flat score & lyrics, Overrated, Banal
See it if You've never seen it; a bombastic melodrama with unmemorable songs save two, but veteran understudy Billy Bustamante is worth catching. You
Don't see it if You disliked the similar Phantom & Le Miz big anthem-like musicals; this show means well politically but falls short musically & lyrically.
In better hands, say Kander & Ebb's perhaps, Miss Saigon might have had the edge & bite—as well as the musicality & muscle—that the material aspires to but never achieves.
It’s not for want of material: the Viet Nam war & the doomed American presence there, the plight of war brides & the interracial children left behind, the rough PSTD re-entry of vets stateside, the vision & face of the US from abroad, etc.—all this should make a fresh and relevant Madam Butterfly update.
God knows it tries, as does the game, all-in cast dutifully doing their jobs, but it’s pretty uphill with a score remarkably bereft of memorable tunes with its Hallmark card lyrics. The end result is highly programmatic if professional, & so audiences respond right on cue to surface emotions, sets and orchestral swells.
The high point—besides Billy Bustamante’s terrific, over-the-top, on point Engineer at the performance caught—was the sound design which amazingly balanced orchestra & voices—impressive and unusual clarity where every lyric could be heard without sounding over amplified or loud.