'Miss Saigon' show will go on after union, producer end dispute

September 19, 1990|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK — Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of "Miss Saigon," announced Tuesday that he was reinstating his New York production of the hit London musical, which is to begin performances as previously scheduled in March at the Broadway Theater.

The announcement apparently brings to an end a two-month dispute that began when objections were raised about Mr. Mackintosh's plan to bring the British actor Jonathan Pryce to Broadway to re-create his award-winning role as the Engineer, a Eurasian pimp.

Mr. Mackintosh's decision came after the council of Actors' Equity approved an agreement between the producer and the union on Monday to clear the way for the $10 million show, which had an advance ticket sale of $25 million, to come to Broadway.

A joint statement released by Mr. Mackintosh and Equity on Tuesday said the two parties had "reached a mutually satisfactory accord on the principles of casting necessary to allow the Broadway production of 'Miss Saigon' to be reinstated on schedule next spring."

Both sides declined to comment furtheror to release details of the accord, which reportedly allows Mr. Mackintosh to use two Asian actors who are not members of American Actors' Equity in the Broadway production for one year.

Theater people familiar with the agreement said those two actors could be used only for the role of Kim, a Vietnamese bar girl who falls in love with an American GI in Saigon in the waning days of the Vietnam War. That role is expected to be played on Broadway by two actresses.

Lea Salonga, the Filipino actress who created the part in London, is reportedly not included in this part of the agreement.

Mr. Mackintosh canceled the Broadway production in August, the day after Equity refused to allow Mr. Pryce to come to Broadway.

On Aug. 7, the union said that in rejecting the British actor that it could not "appear to condone the casting of a Caucasian in the role of a Eurasian."

After the cancellation, Equity received petitions from manmembers asking it to reconsider. The union's council met again on Aug. 16 and reversed its original decision, saying it had "applied an honest and moral principle in an inappropriate manner."

But a few days later, Mr. Mackintosh said although Equity had finally approved Mr. Pryce, he would have to be given a free hand in casting other roles before he would go ahead with a New York production. Equity then invited him to meet on the issue.

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