‘Miss Saigon’ a smash!

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BY ANGELA HATCHER: After bringing local audiences an outstanding production of “Les Miserables” last

season, it should be no big surprise that Stage Door Repertory Theatre’s hard -working executive producers, Nick and Julie Charles, dare to venture into the world of the award-winning mega-musical, “Miss Saigon,” a modernized and loosely-based version of Puccini’s tragic story, “Madame Butterfly.”

BY ANGELA HATCHER: After bringing local audiences an outstanding production of “Les Miserables” last

season, it should be no big surprise that Stage Door Repertory Theatre’s hard -working executive producers, Nick and Julie Charles, dare to venture into the world of the award-winning mega-musical, “Miss Saigon,” a modernized and loosely-based version of Puccini’s tragic story, “Madame Butterfly.”

After all, if an intimate storefront theater is able to make the powerful French Revolution come alive, why not bring on a fully-sung and formidably ambitious operetta/musical complete with a large cast and a helicopter to its stage.

“Why not?” asked the determined couple, and, so they did.

Veteran Director Nick Charles knows that a great story is not about barricades or helicopters; it’s about the people, their passions, their emotions and their experiences.

Stage Door captures the very essence of two young lovers caught between two worlds during one of the most disastrous episodes in American history – the Vietnam War. Claude-Michel Schonberg, Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil’s musical is about many things, Saigon, 1975, the heartbreak of war, death, abandonment and lives forever changed.

As the show opens, we find ourselves in Dreamland, a tacky carnival-like nightclub where American servicemen can have “a real good time” – for a price, and the latest addition to the selection of local girls is the recently orphaned 17-year-old virgin, Kim (Rebecca Rubino), a high-priced commodity in the world of “flesh for sale.”

The engineer of this “train” of thrills is portrayed by Vincent Aniceto, and the incredibly charming and multi-talented Aniceto is the true shining star of the show. His comedic timing is impeccable, his depiction of the Engineer is spot on, and Aniceto doesn’t hold anything back.

His “If You Want to Die in Bed,” and “American Dream” song and dance numbers are unforgettable.

Chris (Kyle Patterson) is the young Marine who falls in love with the prized virgin after his friend John (Jabriel Shelton) is determined that his friend should have a good time while they are in Saigon.

Patterson is a gifted tenor who thrills the audience with his vocals and most especially, his compelling goose-bumping version of “Why, God, Why.”

As Chris, his compassion and struggles as a young Marine in love are heartfelt and real enough. Rubino is a nice contrast to Patterson’s Chris, and Rubino’s vocals are sweet and sensitive.

Unbelievably great moments are the duet between Chris and Kim singing “Last Night of the World” and of course, Miss Saigon’s heart-tugging song by Kim, “I’d Give My Life For You.”

Most worthy of mention is Jabriel Shelton (John) whose beautiful rendition of “Bui Doi” is lovely.

A show stealer is the adorable Christopher Apostol as Tam.

Another must mention is Mikki Pagdonsolan as Gigi and her wonderful vocals.

Nick Charles makes a cameo appearance that adds the perfect “punchline” to a great comedy relief bit.

Don’t miss it! The ensemble is strong, and the production and sound design team led by Tom Osbrink, set designer, Bob Mumm, lighting designer and John McQuay, sound designer brings a simple, yet relevant overall design that brings out the griminess of a war torn country.

“War isn’t over when it ends…”

Miss Saigon”

 Stage Door Repertory Theatre

1045 Armando St., Suite B

Anaheim Hills

714-630-7378.

Runs through Sept. 24