The Problem(s) With Miss Saigon (or, how many stereotypes can you cram into one Broadway musical)

I’m meeting with the board of my local theater this Friday to discuss the upcoming Miss Saigon performance. I will definitely bring this articulate essay written by David Mura and highlight the protests in Saint Paul, Minnesota last fall at the Ordway Theatre. I am driven by unwavering optimism that together, our voices can make a difference.

Opine Season

David Mura Guest Columnist David Mura
Guest Columnist

I am writing this essay in response to the Ordway Theater’s decision to bring back Miss Saigon a third time to the Twin Cities. The Ordway Theater has taken this action despite numerous protests and criticism of the musical by the local Asian American community. The twenty-year history of the Ordway’s indifference and disrespect towards our community and its leading artistic and activist voices is perhaps without parallel in recent Minnesota cultural history.

The offensive and problematic nature of Miss Saigon stems from its plot and its characterization of both the American and Vietnamese characters. The Ordway and many white American audience members seem to have trouble seeing this. But for many Asian Americans, the egregious stereotypes in this musical are patently obvious.

First of all, the musical romanticizes and distorts the nature of prostitution and human trafficking. It would have us believe that in one…

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One response to “The Problem(s) With Miss Saigon (or, how many stereotypes can you cram into one Broadway musical)

  1. David was one of my Japanese language class students at the University of Minnesota. His integrity as a Japanese American writer dovetails many of the experiences adoptees encounter. His response to Miss Saigon is a bull’s eye.

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