If, like the rest of the civilized world, you've been binge-watching Stranger Things, you may be wondering if it's 2016 or the 1980s. And it’s not just folks home in their pajamas: The theater world is in an extended ’80s phase: Cats just re-opened on Broadway, preserved in formaldehyde; The Color Purple is still best known to mass audiences as the 1985 Steven Spielberg flick; Reagan-era MTV star Gloria Estefan has formed a conga line down memory lane in On Your Feet!; and of course The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables are still running (the latter, a revival, closes in September). And this March we can expect a return of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s Miss Saigon, also produced by Brit hitmaker Cameron Macintosh, the man behind, yes, Cats, Phantom and Les Miz.
Technically, Miss Saigon opened here in 1991, where it ran for a decade. But its London world premiere was in 1989, making it one of the last of the Brit/Euro megamusicals that dominated Broadway for so long. As a nice bit of serendipity, the new production is going into the same space: the Broadway Theatre. The show, famous for its climactic onstage helicopter landing, will play a limited engagement through January 2018.
Here’s a bit of retro cultural history we are to avoid: outrage over a white actor playing the Eurasian character known as the Engineer. The role will be played by Filipino-American actor Jon Jon Briones (pictured), who was in the original ensemble. As Kim, the Vietnamese bar girl who falls in love with an American G.I. the midst of the Vietnam War, Eva Noblezada is poised for a breakthrough that will no doubt draw comparisons to Lea Salonga, who originated the role on both sides of the Atlantic.