200 assemble outside Ordway to protest 'Miss Saigon'


Some 200 people gathered outside the Ordway Center of Performing Arts in St. Paul Tuesday night to protest the opening of the traveling Broadway production of "Miss Saigon," the Pioneer Press reports.

The protesters wore red T-shirts that read "Miss Saigon Lies," claiming the Vietnam-era musical is filled with historical inaccuracies and the depiction of a young Vietnamese prostitute's relationship with an American soldier is unflattering.

Based on Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly," the prostitute makes the ultimate sacrifice so the couple's child can go to America.

According to the paper, some protesters admitted they had not seen the show, but say they've watched clips of it on YouTube or read summaries of the play.

In an earlier report, the Pioneer Press said protests of the show in the Twin Cities date back to the first time it played the Ordway in 1994, and again in 2004.

Responding to the controversy, Ordway CEO Patricia Mitchell said a question-and-answer session with the people involved in the production was planned after at least one of the performances of the show.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Mitchell said the Ordway wasn't "unmindful of the feeling within segments of the Asian-American community about this show." She also said she had friends who "don't like it at all" and others who find "it's an excellent device for learning."

"We’re doing it because it’s a compelling piece of theater that can move people emotionally and make them think," Mitchell told the paper.

Randy Reyes, a Filipino-American and the artistic director of Mu Performing Arts, told the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune 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.”

Written by the composers of "Les Miserables," "Miss Saigon" premiered in London in 1989.

It opened in New York City in 1991 and is the 12th longest running musical on Broadway.

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