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A standing ovation for Parker’s “Miss Saigon”

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Greg Peck
November 19, 2012

“Miss Saigon, School Edition” went over so well a week ago that Parker High School put on two encore performances this weekend. I’d heard good things about the production, directed by Jim Tropp, who also directs some shows at the Janesville Performing Arts Center (including the upcoming “Sound of Music”). I’d also heard good things about Parker’s theater program. Still, my wife, Cheryl, and I had not taken in a school play at Parker, so we ordered tickets to Sunday’s final performance.

The cost might have scared some folks away—$15 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. We figured the final performance on a Sunday afternoon likely wouldn’t be that well attended. We were wrong. While the 4:30 p.m. show didn’t sell out, we were surprised that hundreds of attendees had gotten seats ahead of us when we arrived at 4:10 p.m.

We found decent seats on the right side, however, eight rows from the stage. I was impressed again how nice Parker’s auditorium is—I hadn’t been in it for years.

The performance was equally good. In particular, the leads in the cast, Colin Murdy as The Engineer, Jasmine Bianes as Kim, Jacob Schmidt as Chris, Mina Wise as Ellen, Jordan Peyer as Thuy and Ben Treinen as John, were strong. For the most part, their singing was impressive. Many of these students and those in the ensemble demonstrated that talented young people are part of our community.

One critic in Sunday’s Sound Off suggested the show, depicting Vietnamese prostitutes catering to U.S. soldiers as the Vietnam War was ending, was not appropriate for high school. I think, however, the school did well to educate students about that chapter in our nation’s history. It invited veterans, who arrived in a Vietnam-era helicopter, to talk with students about their experiences.

Our admission Sunday was money well-spent. The show got a well-deserved standing ovation. The drama pulled at emotions in key scenes; I saw several people wiping tears as we headed out.

If you missed this show, check out our youthful talent at the next one at Parker or Craig.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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