On stage through this weekend is the Western Playhouse production of Miss Saigon. It's a large show, involving between 70 and 80 people per night. Everyone from lead singers to stage hands contribute to the success. It's the type of production that is normally not seen in St. Joseph
"There are communities that support the arts in very small places around the country that are able to do shows like this of this scale," said show director Tee Quillin. "St. Joseph is unique in being able to pull something like this together."
For this show, Quillin recruited actors from across the nation.
"We started with 770 in auditions and we picked 25 of them," he said.
The award winning musical is a challenge to bring to the stage because of both the difficult staging needed and also the emotional strain it places on the actors.
"In order to tell the story fully and correctly, the actors really have to go to some really dark and not so pleasant places a lot of times," Quillin said.
Actress Patsita Jiratipayabood, originally from Bangkok, Thailand, plays the lead role of "Kim" in the musical, and she agrees the show is taxing.
"A lot of times I get really tired and I want to eat a tub of ice cream," she said.
Other cast members have enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about a difficult time in U.S. history.
"It's based on real events so it gave you the opportunity to dig and research," said Johnathan Shepherd, who plays "John". "You start finding things and it's like a domino effect. You just keep looking for more and more."
"Giving a voice to a character that otherwise might not have one is just one thing that draws me to this so much," said Alyssa McAnany, who came to St. Joseph from New Jersey to perform in the musical.
From the reaction of those who have seen this production of Miss Saigon, the hard work has paid off.
"The best responses for me has been when they come out. It's a look of surprise, more like awe," Quillin said. "They're certainly surprised that they've seen something of this size and this scope performed here on this stage."
Miss Saigon wraps up at Potter Hall on the Missouri Western campus this weekend with performances on Friday and Saturday night. Tickets are $21 each.