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'Miss Saigon' Makes the Trip to Raleigh

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RALEIGH — Broadway opened in the Triangle Wednesday night as "Miss Saigon" began a five-week run at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.

More than three dozen actors and singers are part of this $12 million production, set near the end of America's involvement in the Vietnam War.

"Miss Saigon"is a spectacle of sound and song, dancers who delight, and mesmerizing special effects.

The musical takes the audience from the steam of Saigon to the seamy bars of Bangkok, and into the hearts of those who long to love, and those who long to leave.

The musical tells the story of a Marine who falls in love with a 17-year-old Vietnamese orphan. They're brought together by The Engineer, a french/vietnamese pimp who wrote the book on scheming and surviving.

The two-week romance produces love, separation and a child.

"It's going to bring some issues to you," says Greg Stone, the actor who plays Sgt. Chris Scott. "It's going to make you think. It's going to make you cry. Probably, and hopefully, The Engineer, in those lighter moments, can make you laugh as well."

The performance is a seamless intergration of automation technology that moves the show but never overwhelms the center of the story.

The show's sets are imposing structures, including a 35-foot statue of Ho Chi Minh. It features 450 costume changes, including authentic costumes from bikinis, to the Swiss Army Knife of headwear.

The production is known for its special effects. A replica of a 1959 Cadillac hangs backstage in two 8-foot sections. As it comes to life, it glides in as if it's being driven onstage.

And there's the signature piece -- a small shell of a helicopter. It's controlled by computer and has a back-up system using joysticks.

As the $300,000 system is energized, the urgent exit from the American Embassy is re-created with power and emotion.

The musical continues with heartbreak and heartache, and The Engineer never losing sight of his fantasy.

The opening night curtain rises at 8:00. There will be 40 performances during the next five weeks; some tickets are still available.