"This Is the Hour" — A Protestor, Cast Member and Blogger Weigh In On Boycott of Miss Saigon

By Carey Purcell
11 Oct 2013

 

Orville Mendoza, with Daphne Valenta, in Miss Saigon.
Photo by Bob Compton Photography

Mendoza, a Filipino-American who immigrated to the United States at age two, performed in the original second national tour of Miss Saigon and said he decided to participate in the musical "because I truly believe in it," he said. "I believe in the positive message of the show. I think that love triumphs over any adversity."

In response to the protestors' request that the Ordway promise never to present the musical again, Mendoza expressed concern for the future of controversial artistic material saying, "That borders on censorship. If we put a blanket and say you can never ever do this show again, I think that would be very damaging — not just for Miss Saigon, but for any future production that might be deemed controversial in any way."



He said he supports the protestors' rights to express their opinions about the show, even if he does not agree with them.

"I want them to have a voice," he said. "I feel like they are my brothers and sisters. Being an Asian actor/artist myself, I know how important freedom of speech is, and that freedom, I think, works both ways. They are entitled to an opinion of the show. I have a different opinion. And I think my opinion is just as valid."

Describing Miss Saigon as "a very specific piece that deals with a very specific time in American and Asian history," Mendoza said the musical "is not representative of all Asians by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it representative of all Americans." He also addressed the accusations of racism, saying, "There are racist statements in the show, but they are purposeful and they are mindful of their time. And if we were to whitewash any of that, I think it would do a disservice to the Asian and American servicemen who lived through the war. I think we have a duty to them as well."

Despite the musical's historical context, Mendoza said he does not think the production of Miss Saigon is making a historical or political statement. He stressed the responsibility to honor and be accurate to the Vietnam War and society surrounding Vietnam, but he said the show is not meant to be a history lesson.

With a revival of Miss Saigon scheduled to open in London in 2014 and a possible opening on Broadway following, Mura said the Don't Buy Miss Saigon Coalition plans to continue protesting the production. The website dontbuymiss-saigon.com, which was built in September, features a Tumblr account where people are invited to express their thoughts on the truth of the musical.

"It's going to be a continuing national campaign against Miss Saigon," Mura said, mentioning an online petition that has 946 signatures on the website 18 Million Rising - Activating Asian America. "I think we have the tools to take this to a national level."

Performances continue through Oct. 13. 

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The company
Photo by Bob Compton Photography