Good morning, Vietnam!!! Yesterday was the first day the full company of MISS SAIGON gathered in the Rehearsal Hall at The Elks. Always a rush for me to see this…to realize the fruition of all the calls, emails, meetings and auditions and have everyone under one roof! Introductions are made, thanks and welcomes are expressed. Costume Designer, Linda Roethke, addressed the cast on the process of developing individual characters for each of them and how that now we are together their input to this process is the next important step in completing the look of their characterizations. A brilliant lady, Linda has compiled the most comprehensive background research and specific design to suit each individual actor. Linda’s source material was distributed to the cast weeks ago as was that of Set Designer, Linda Buchanan, and Dramaturg, Josh Altman. Josh and I spent Friday night decorating the rehearsal hall with blown up photos of the events referenced in the play. My chest swells up with a repressed sob viewing image after image. The faces of the Vietnamese people: torn from their homes, escaping on boats, their villages in flames. The chaos of The Fall of Saigon. The famous images of the evacuations, the panic in the streets, on rooftops…the bloody battlefields, the orphaned children, the suffering of our boys in the trenches throughout the long war…and then, to the photos of the bars, the Vietnamese girls on the streets talking with our G.I.s…so pretty and strikingly hip and fashionable in go-go boots and mini-skirts. This display of images on the walls of the room seem to embrace. Like a hug. A surround. Focusing all of our energy on the responsibility we bear telling this story.
We take a mini field trip to the Paramount stage where the set of IN THE HEIGHTS is in its last phase of being dismantled. One show ends and another begins. So many of this very young cast have never been inside the theater. I enjoy being witness to them standing there looking out into the gorgeous house from the grand deck for the first time.
And then back to The Elks, music rehearsal begins and the walls of the hall are ringing with the voices of these superb singers! The score sounds powerful, passionate and voiced so thrillingly. What a knock out!
And I think how this cast joins the continuum of first days of rehearsal. That this is Paramount’s tenth production. How our hearts melted Sunday night at the closing of the spectacular IN THE HEIGHTS. Bittersweet, yes, but glorious. That final performance rang with a such a burst of love and energy. And the dancing took on a grace and refinement I had never seen before so synchronized. How ultimately they became truly together and unified. What a sensation for the crowd that night!
I have got to wrap it up here, my dear friend, and get to rehearsal.
Love & thanks,