Home Hotspots Central Q&A: Matthew Overberg Talks ‘Miss Saigon’

Q&A: Matthew Overberg Talks ‘Miss Saigon’

Miss Saigon Tour / Matthew Murphy

Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon a smash hit in London, Broadway and across the UK will play in 2 Central Florida venues: The Straz Center (March 24-29) and the Dr. Phillips Center.

Cameron Mackintosh said “It’s hard to believe that it has been over 28 years since MISS SAIGON first opened in North America but, if anything, the tragic love story at the heart of the show has become even more relevant today with innocent people being torn apart by war all over the world.”

“This brilliant new production, directed by Laurence Connor and featuring the original dazzling choreography by Bob Avian, takes a grittier, more realistic approach that magnifies the power and epic sweep of Boublil and Schönberg’s tremendous score. Of all my productions, despite its popularity, Miss Saigon is the one that the public has had the least chance to see as it requires such a huge international cast of Asian and Western performers and a vast array of visually stunning sets. Now, for the first time in 19 years, as it continues to wow audiences in major cities around the world, theatregoers across America will be able to see one of the most spectacular musicals ever written in all its glory, in a new production that critics in London and on Broadway have embraced,” said Mackintosh.

Miss Saigon tells the story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim, who is orphaned by war and forced to work in a bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American G.I. named Chris, but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 years, Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son. This new production features stunning spectacle and a sensational cast of 42 performing the soaring score, including Broadway hits like “The Heat is On in Saigon,” “The Movie in My Mind,” “Last Night of the World” and “American Dream.”

Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s epic musical Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history.  The original Broadway production of Miss Saigon opened on April 11, 1991 with what was the largest advance sale in Broadway history ($37 million).  The show went on to play for nearly ten years with 4,111 performances and was seen by more than 5.9 million people. Miss Saigon has been performed in 32 countries, over 350 cities, in 15 different languages, has won over 70 awards including 2 Olivier Awards, 3 Tony Awards and 4 Drama Desk Awards and been seen by over 36 million people worldwide.

The new production of Miss Saigon opened in London in May 2014 to record-breaking advance sales and critical acclaim.  The Daily Telegraph wrote, “This thrilling new production spills out beyond theatre and speaks directly to the times we live in—magnificent performances.”  The Daily Mail said, “The greatest musical of all-time just got even better!”  The London Times called the production “thrilling, soaring and spectacular.” NY1 proclaimed “the new Miss Saigon soars to the rafters!” And The New Yorker called Miss Saigon “a dynamite Broadway revival!”

Cameron Mackintosh announced in 2015 that the production would transfer for a limited Broadway run from March 1, 2017 to January 14, 2018 before launching its national tour at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, RI in September 2018.

It was a pleasure to sit down with Matthew Overberg for this exclusive Hotspots interview: 

At what age did you begin performing and how did it happen?

I started playing the violin when I was 7, and was working at a pit orchestra at the age of 15. I then fell in love with dance and went to University for Dance in Australia and then incorporated it all together. 

What was your first professional role that paid you any amount of money?

In that pit orchestra for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at 15, For performing it was when I was an ensemble member of the King and I for a year. 

How did you get cast in Miss Saigon?

I was touring with the national tour of Cabaret, and flew in at 5am to New York to audition. I had to go back to New York 3 times, but I got lucky and booked it.

Is it hard to disguise your Australian accent?

Singing is always some form of American so it’s not hard. However, I do my best to water it down while talking on stage. 

Miss Saigon has my favorite Broadway song ever, “Why God Why,” is it as powerful every time you hear it?

It’s powerful for me because I love the music so much and Anthony’s voice (Festa, who plays Chris) is hugely triumphant. It shakes me to my core every time. 

Other than this role, what has been your favorite to play?

I loved being in Cabaret, because I got to play a bunch of instruments and sing.

What is your fantasy role?

Doctor Dillamond in Wicked. The character is so funny and he gets to dress up as a goat.

You have a husband. How did you meet, and why is he the perfect man for you?

We met working on a cruise ship together in Florida. He was a singer and I was a dancer. We hit it off in Wilton Manors, and fell in love. He is super supportive of what’s best for me. He knows how badly I want this. 

How does he deal with your traveling schedule?

He used to perform so he is very understanding, but I try and see him as much as I can. He will come to visit or I will fly knack to New York where he is located. 

What should our readers expect from this production of Miss Saigon?

Well the music and performance is grand and lavish. You won’t see a musical like this in a long time. It’s a beautiful love story but if you strip away the narrative it makes a very good comment on the refugee status that still applies today. I hope it raises awareness on humanity and caring.

For more information on Bryson, follow him: Instagram @dearmatt

For tickets for The Straz Center for the Performing Arts (March 24-29), which start at $66, go to StrazCeter.org or at their box office (Mon – Sat Noon – 8 pm and Sun Noon – 6 pm) at 1010 N Macinnes Pl, Tampa, or by calling 800.955.1045. For tickets to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (March 31- April 5), which start at $44.50, go to DrPhillipsCenter.org, or at their box office (Monday–Friday10 am–4 pm or Saturday: 12–4 pm) at 445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, or by 844.513.2014 or boxoffice@drphillipscenter.org

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