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This week in theater: 'Miss Saigon' starts weeklong run at Ordway

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A new Broadway tour of the acclaimed musical "Miss Saigon" returns to Minnesota this week with a six-day run at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul Tuesday through Sunday.

Set during the Vietnam war, "Miss Saigon," described as "a tragedy of passion beauty" between a young girl, Kim, and American G.I., Chris, is based on Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly."

Local reviews of the show are forthcoming, but the show already has its critics.

The Pioneer Press reports that protests of the show in the Twin Cities date back to the first time it played the Ordway in 1994, and again in 2004 because, among many things, it plays up Asian stereotypes.

Ordway CEO Patricia Mitchell is certainly aware of the controversy, but defends the show as compelling because it raises so many issues, she tells the Pioneer Press. A question-and-answer session is planned after at least one of the performances of the show.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Mitchell also called the production an "excellent device for learning."

Randy Reyes, a Filipino-American and the artistic director of Mu Performing Arts, told both papers that the show shouldn't be produced at all.

“It represents the Asian woman as oversexualized. It repeats the narrative of an Asian woman killing herself for a white man," Reyes told the Star Tribune. "There are issues about adoption and colonialism and privilege.”

Also on stage this week:

--"The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" host brings his stand-up comedy to Mystic Lake Hotel and Casino in Prior Lake Friday.

--Cirque du Soleil's touring production "Amaluna" continues its run this week under the big top at the Mall of America's north parking lot in Bloomington.

The Pioneer Press' Dominic P. Papatola gives high praise to the show, saying there is "more story and more emphasis on finesse as opposed to eye-popping acts of derring-do."

"The performers and their otherworldly antics may not leave your chin on the floor, but it's almost assured you will walk out of Cirque's big-top tent slack-jawed," Papatola writes.

The Star Tribune's Rohan Preston was also high on"Amaluna," calling it a "mesmerizing and mythic show."

The show runs through Oct. 20.

--Continuing its run at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis is "Uncle Vanya," the Guthrie's first staging of the Anton Checkov's 1899 tragicomedy classic about unrequited love, thwarted ambition and enduring hope in nearly 25 years.

The Pioneer Press' Papatola says while the production isn't flawless, director Joe Dowling's "version is, in tone and performance, a telling that lightens and illuminates the story."

The production runs through Oct. 27.

--"The Wizard of Oz" prequel musical "Wicked" also continues this week with performances at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.

Star Tribune theater critic Preston says the production was "shaky" in its return to the Twin Cities 10 days ago, but still "richly entertaining."

The Pioneer Press' Papatola admits it's hard to get hard to get excited about the production after five previous viewings, but the reaction will be different for others.

"Great theater? Not really, at least not after repeated viewings. But "Wicked" is not for Eeyores like me. It's a show for true believers and first-timers."

"Wicked" runs through Oct. 20.

--The Childrens Theatre Company in Minneapolis continues its run this week of the classic children's story "Charlotte's Web."

The Star Tribune's Preston calls the production "a show worth seeing."

"It has heart and touching humanity courtesy of some fun and interesting farm animals," Preston writes.

Pioneer Press contributing critic says CTC's first-ever production of the play demands the patience of younger audience members "accustomed to high-speed stimulation."

"Exercising patience will be rewarded with an enjoyable and touching tale that provides its best teaching moments when addressing the issue of death," Hubbard writes.

The play, based on the classic book by E.B. White, runs through Oct. 27.

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