During the first 10 days of November, the Fayetteville community will honor Vietnam veterans during the Heroes Homecoming event. The Cape Fear Regional Theatre is doing its part to honor these American heroes through the staging of Miss Saigon.
Miss Saigon, a modern adaption of the opera Madame Butterfly, is set during the closing days of America’s involvement of Vietnam and revolves around an American soldier and a Vietnamese girl who find love in the midst of war and its associated pain. The two are ripped apart as Saigon falls, and the musical ultimately addresses the hard questions of what people will do to survive and who are the real victims of war.
Under the direction of Bruce Lumpkin, the cast of Miss Saigon has been working at a quick pace to put the show together. According to Lumpkin, who is revisiting the play for the fifth time, the staging of this show in Fayetteville is going to be unique.
“Each time I’ve done the show, it has been totally different,” said Lumpkin, “but this one will be even more different. We are using a lot of projections and photo montages to bring people into the story.”
Lumpkin hopes that the use of actual footage and photos of the fall of Saigon will help people really see the reality of that moment and the way that people’s lives were torn apart.
“I know that many people in the audience will have served in Vietnam and will have memories of those days,” said Lumpkin. “I hope this will strike a chord with them and those memories.”
For Shannon Tyo, who is playing the role of Kim, the show is very personal.
“For someone of my age and ethnicity and vocal range, this part is tailor made for me. It is a beautiful, wonderful part, and hopefully I can do it until the day I die,” said Tyo. “I love this part.”
“I was adopted from Korea when I was 3-years-old. In the musical, Kim is forced to make a very difficult choice concerning her child,” she explained. “For me, it is interesting to see what it is like from the mother’s side. I think about a lot of things that have happened in my life, and think about the mother who wanted a better life for her child, like Kim wants for her child. This is truly a story of great love and sacrifice.”
Tyo, like Lumpkin, is very aware that many in the audience may have actually lived through these times, and sees it as a great honor to get to perform for them.
“This is really a beautiful interpretation of the musical,” she said. “Being here in this place with such a strong miltiary background, it is very important for us to get things right. I am nervous to a certain extent, but I am very excited for them to see what we are doing. I hope it is going to be beautiful and mov-ing for them, and I am excited for them to come and see it.”
Of the videos and photos, she noted, “It’s mind-blowing how the videos and photo take you exactly where you need to be. In an instant, you are in Sai-gon in 1973.”
Lumpkin has been working night and day to ensure that atmosphere is set. “Miss Saigon is a big show, but it is also a very intimate piece of theatre. If it is well done, and you have a great group of people — like we have here – you don’t need the expansive scenery or the helicopter, because the story is what is important.”
The musical will run from Nov. 3 through Nov. 20. Tickets range in price from $12 to $27. All Vietnam veterans will recieve tickets for $15, while other veterans will receive a $3 discount. For show times, and to make reservations, visit the website at www.cfrt.org.