‘Miss Saigon’ returns to KCC stage

For Kauai audiences, two weekends in May was not enough.

“Miss Saigon,” the musical based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly,” was reprised for a four-month run at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center.

The near sold-out show in May was a sign for producer Jason Blake to move forward.

“We were probably not going to move forward, but we filled to capacity at KCC on the final Sunday night performance, and it was all local people,” Blake said. “We took that as a wink from the universe.”

The musical, which Blake describes as more like an opera, was created in part to give part-time work to the talented performers on Kauai.

“Miss Saigon” is 100 percent professional, and employs an all-Kauai cast, Blake said.

Everything, from the costumes to the set design, was done in a way to elevate and enrich the theater experience on Kauai.

“There is a very high level of talent,” Blake said, noting that this is setting the ground work for other opportunities for Kauai’s theater professionals.

The musical remains the 11th longest-running Broadway show of all time, which is why Blake knew this show was for Kauai.

“Honestly, I really feel this chose me more than the other way around,” Blake said. “This one just kept nudging me.”

Blake said he saw signs everywhere — “Les Miserables” was hitting theaters, and its creators also created “Miss Saigon”; the musical depicts a large Asian cast; and it’s a world-renowned show that has fallen off the national radar, creating an appetite for theatergoers.

Also, its exploration of the dark side of war and the country’s role on the international stage is relevant commentary to what is happening in the Middle East.

The story is famous: It’s a tragic tale of a doomed romance between a Vietnamese woman and her American lover during the Vietnam War.

For the Kauai run, Kauai High School graduate Juno Apalla stars as Kim, a 17-year-old orphan. Robert Carrasco, who has Broadway and national tour credits, plays the role of Chris, the American G.I. sergeant about to leave Saigon for America.

The show also features Stephen Pinzer in his debut as The Engineer, plus other seasoned Kauai’s performers, including Thom Newman, Dolly Kanekuni, Daphne Sanchez, Bud Soria and Leonda Clendenen.  

A portion of the profits will benefit disabled veterans on Kauai.

“I’m a big believer of, if you live here on Kauai, there’s a demand for a certain type of giving back to ohana,” Blake said. “It makes something good out of a dark show, it’s the right thing to do. I believe in giving back.”

The charity Blake chose was the Kauai chapter of the Disabled American Veterans. He also pointed out that the show is not yet profitable because of the costs to get the production off the ground.

In the meantime, Starbucks donated free coffee to the show, which attendees can enjoy. Blake just asks they consider making a donation to the charity.

For details, visit www.misssaigonkauai.com. Tickets cost $40-$65 per person and can be purchased at ticket outlets, online or at concierge desks.

What: ‘Miss Saigon’

When: Mondays; see website for specific dates

Where: Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center

Cost: $40 to $65

Ticket outlets: Dr. Antoling Apalla’s office on Hardy Street and InkSpot in Lihue; Scotty’s Music in Kalaheo; and Kauai Music and Sound in Kapaa.

Details: www.misssaigonkauai.com

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