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‘Miss Saigon’ Coming to Broadway After All

September 19, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Broadway production of ″Miss Saigon,″ canceled in a dispute over the casting of a white actor as a Eurasian pimp, will arrive in New York next spring as originally scheduled.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh made the decision after reaching an agreement with Actors’ Equity over the casting of other roles in the musical, which is a hit in London.

The union leadership, in a meeting described as tense and tough, approved the pact Monday.

In a statement, Mackintosh and the union said the producer ″acknowledges Equity’s efforts to improve equal employment opportunities for its ethnic members, and he and his creative team support that goal.″

Mackintosh had scrapped the $10 million musical on Aug. 8, the day after Actors’ Equity barred white Englishman Jonathan Pryce from repeating in New York his portrayal of the Eurasian brothel owner. The union, which has veto power over foreign actors in the United States, said it would be offensive to cast a white in the role.

Pryce said in London he was ″delighted″ with the agreement.

″I have always believed that one of the best arenas for fighting the battle for ethnic minorities is on the stage and ‘Miss Saigon’ with its huge multiracial cast has always provided that opportunity,″ Pryce said.

The ban stirred debate over color-blind casting and minority opportunities on stage, and the union later reversed itself.

But Mackintosh sought assurances that he would have a free hand in other casting decisions for the musical, a love story set during the closing days of the Vietnam War. Of the nearly 50 performers in the large cast, some 34 roles are played by ethnic minority actors, including 27 Asians.

Equity and the producer began meetings on Sept. 6.

The agreement, according to The New York Times, lets the producer use two non-American Asian actors in the Broadway production for one year. He must request permission to bring over Lea Salonga, a Filipino who plays the leading female role in the London production.

Mackintosh also will agree not to use yellow-face makeup or facial devices designed to simulate Asian eyes in any American production and to make an effort to recruit Asian-American actors for lesser roles in the show.

The producer also will seek minority performers for two of his long-running hits on Broadway and on the road, ″The Phantom of the Opera″ and ″Les Miserables.″

″Miss Saigon″ had sold a record $25 million in advance tickets before the cancellation.

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