The ANU Interhall Musical Production (IMP) for 2015, Miss Saigon, kicks off next week and promises to be one of the biggest productions ANU has seen yet.
Miss Saigon is based on the Giocomo Puccini opera, Madame Butterfly, and tells the story of a romance between a Vietnamese barmaid and an American Soldier during the Vietnam War.
The IMP Producer, Katherine Carrington, said Miss Saigon was a good choice as it contains a significant number of female leads, something of a rarity in productions. Carrington also said that Miss Saigon was chosen as it was a good musical production – since it only has 4 spoken lines in the entire show, it gives the Musical Director ‘a lot to play with’.
The Production Director, Ellen Trevanion, said that she was extremely happy with how the show was coming together and that she has ‘never seen a show looking this good’.
However, Trevanion also said that an immense amount of a work from a very dedicated team is needed to bring together a production like this. The entire process included about 40 hours of auditions across two weeks, plus casting, around 10 hours of rehearsal per week, and a final intensive rehearsal from 9-5 for six days.
‘I have been there until about midnight every night’ Trevanion said of the past week, but that it was also “very much a team thing’.
“The Musical Director and Choreographer have been dealing with equally intense workloads, but having a full production team of twelve people has made things easier,” she said.
‘I was on the edge of my seat for a last full run on Saturday’ she said, ‘and my choreographer burst into tears. The tech is spectacular, and the costumes are lavish’.
Lead in the production, Will Collett, said that being a part of the Miss Saigon team has been a fantastic experience.
‘It’s not often you get to act alongside a group of people who are not only crazy talented, but super nice as well.’
Collett said that the production team had ‘put an enormous effort into the sound, lighting and set design in order to bring the whole show together’ and that ‘the final production is going to be one hell of a spectacle, one which I can’t wait to be a part of.’
However, the show has not been without its criticisms. Immediately after the casting process, several people voiced apprehensions that the production cannot be representative as an authentic ethnic-racial story, given that white leads have been cast for the Vietnamese characters of Miss Saigon.
When asked about the concerns, Trevanion said that they ‘cast blind based on what we heard in the auditions’, a process whereby they judge those who audition based on vocals, acting and dancing alone, not on appearance or ethnicity. While this is appealing from an equity perspective, the effects of such a justification on critical opinion is yet to be seen.
Miss Saigon shows start on September 24 and will run through to October 3. Tickets are available now from interhallproductions.anu.edu, or can be purchased at the door.