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San Gabriel Valley Music Theatre invests $50k in Miss Saigon

February 3, 2010

Producing Artistic Director, Bobby Hundley, tells me SGVMT will produce two same-day shows, May 1, in their 1,400 seat Mission-style theatre. The theatre’s board approved the production this week.

What’s unique about this version of Miss Saigon, he says, is the substitution of visual media for expensive sets, saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“This is more than a staged concert. You’ll get the full impact of Miss Saigon, from the story, the characters, and the music. We’re not only singing the songs,” Hundley says. “We’re speaking every line.”

Vietnam was America’s first multimedia-driven war. Many of us baby boomers remember Walter Cronkite’s nightly body count on CBS news. So, while you may or may not see a helicopter landing, you will see hundreds of images taken from documentaries and stills that recount the fall of Saigon. Memorable, if not tragic, images. “They’ll stay with you,” Hundley tells me.

A 24-piece orchestra will join the cast onstage and, if you know the show, you may remember the complex percussive moments. For once, you’ll see the music played – musicians won’t be hidden in a pit.

It’s union musicians that often bring up ticket prices, some producers say. At $800 or so a week per musician, theatre companies can get into quick trouble by holding too many musical rehearsals. “We trust these folks,” Hundley says. “Most of them score movies and are true pros. That’s why we’re holding only one musical rehearsal and one tech rehearsal for them.” Music director, Richard Allen, has been working closely with union contact Bob O’Donnell on contracts.

The San Gabriel Valley Music Theatre occupies the former Civic Auditorium, which enjoyed a renovation in recent years. I asked Hundley if he foresees trouble filling all 1,400 seats – twice in one day. He paused. This is a theatre without a large marketing budget. “We hope Miss Saigon will sell itself. Our company is in the black, frankly, functioning on our own money and our attendance is growing. Our tickets will start at $20 [and go to $60] and we’ll make discount tickets available, too.”

But that doesn’t mean the company is financially confident. Who can be, these days? Sally Baldwin, board President, says they are still looking for another $25,000 to stage Miss Saigon.

Hundley plans to launch a pre-show discount ticket drive this Saturday, when SGVMT stages its Big Band Show of 2010 [tickets still available]. “We’ll also release half-price tickets on Goldstar about three weeks before we open,” he says.

That SGVMT’s audience is growing can be traced, in large part, to support from the local Asian community. The theatre’s managing director, Anna Cross, (formerly of UCLA Live and whose degree is in ethnomusicology) says Asians account for nearly two-thirds [64%] of theatregoers. Asian dance performances are tremendous draws, notably International Secret Agents, and about three in ten performances at the San Gabriel Valley Playhouse are Asian-themed.

Miss Saigon will be directed by Ray Rochelle, formerly a member of the touring company and who cut his teeth on the San Gabriel stage, one day only, Saturday, May 1, 2010.

40 Comments leave one →
  1. Samuel & Miriam Lutz permalink
    March 1, 2010 3:10 pm

    We saw both Redondo Beach CLO’s and FCLO Music Theater’s fully staged musical productions of MISS SAIGON. In our opinion, in addition to the wonderful sets, costumes, and lighting which both these venues offered, the biggest impact was the flying helicopter which really made it well worth the price of our tickets.

    • Aaron Seinfeld permalink
      March 2, 2010 12:34 am

      Ditto… It’s a fantastic musical when done correctly: with the helicopter, as well as the pink cadillac.

    • Dr. Juliannyn Rothchilds, M.D. permalink
      March 2, 2010 6:58 pm

      I don’t understnad why this theater company doesn’t have a marketing budget?? It seems to me that this is one of the most essential components needed in order to promote any production.

      • Kris permalink
        March 3, 2010 3:56 pm

        The article above states they don’t have a “large” marketing budget, not that they don’t have a marketing budget. Big Difference. Secondly, doesn’t it take community support such as a donations to allow any arts organization to generate a Large Marketing budget. Dr. Rothchilds, why dont you make a big donation to the company or the Pasadena Playhouse or these other struggling companies so they can have the things that you think are no brainers?

    • Lari Genereux permalink
      March 3, 2010 1:11 am

      After reading this blog, it sure doesn’t sound like SGVMT has any money to spare since they can only afford to do the “concert version” of Miss Saigon. One way to save a lot of money is to employ a non-union orchestra. I did the math, and a 24-piece union orchestra will cost them a bundle.

      • Kris permalink
        March 3, 2010 4:07 pm

        Lari, do you want to see dentists during the day who play saxophone on the weekends or professional musicians who make a living doing this? This is why the arts struggle – people want artists to work for free. Any of you see the Carnegie Hall production of “South Pacific” with Brian Stokes Mitchell Reba McEntire which was done “In Concert” and aired on PBS before the revival came out last year? I guess they didn’t have money to stage a full production either according to the perception of some of the comments on here — artists find unique ways to make for memorable performances… I saw the FCLO production of Miss Saigon — and the director of this Saigon, was the choreographer and associate director of that production. it nabbed him an ovation nomination.

      • Barbara permalink
        March 3, 2010 6:49 pm

        I have seen several concert versions of shows, and for the most part, they do a really great job. However, for me, it’s so distracting when the actors have to stand and hold their scripts and music books in their hands. I enjoy seeing the actors wear costumes, but I don’t think that this will be the case here.

  2. Ed James permalink
    March 4, 2010 4:12 pm

    they have a facebook page for the show. The show will be costumed by Shon LeBlanc of Valentino’s Costumes… he has a ton of awards as a costumer.!/event.php?eid=313025896715&ref=mf

    • Connie permalink
      April 19, 2010 5:07 pm

      I like know who are actors in show miss saigon concert please. I look everywhere for help on web and newpaper and find no help about this.

  3. Mark permalink
    April 21, 2010 2:20 pm

    How I find out about discout tickts for this miss saigon concert please. When discout tickts selling please.

    • julianabroad permalink*
      April 21, 2010 2:25 pm

      Try calling 626-308-2865

  4. Gena permalink
    April 22, 2010 4:30 pm

    I think it is wonderful that this company is doing this Miss Saigon concert, but is this the same company that used to put on all those wonderful shows (Annie, Naughty Marietta, Will Rogers Follies, etc.)about eight years ago at the civic auditorium?

    Are there still hearing aid devices for those with hearing loss?

    • Sally permalink
      April 23, 2010 10:01 pm

      First of all, this is a new company, San Gabriel Valley Music Theatre. It were established in 2005 and has presented several productions, Sound of Music, Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, King and I, Big Band of 2008, 2009 and 2010, South Pacific, Forever Plaid, as well as on stage Cabaret Dinner Shows and several fundraising concerts. Miss Saigon is the latest offering for SGVMT

      As to your question about hearing devices, Yes. They are available

  5. Sally permalink
    April 22, 2010 7:38 pm

    The correct number for information regarding Miss Saigon is (626) 282-1440. Someone in the office can tell you about cast list, available seating, discounts and hearing devices. The office is open from 10 -2 but messages are picked up several times a day.

  6. Megan permalink
    April 24, 2010 7:21 pm

    I noticed that your recent quarter page ad in our San Marino Tribune newspaper (4-22-10) does not indicate that your Miss Saigon production will be a concert version. Have you changed your plans? Will you now be presenting the complete Broadway version of this musical?

  7. Robert permalink
    April 24, 2010 10:09 pm

    I’m just curious but if it cost this company 50K for the staged concert version of Miss Saigon, what in the world would it cost them to put on the full version of this show with sets, etc.? Is it true that the actors will be required to hold their scripts and song books in their hands while they perform this show?

  8. Sally permalink
    April 25, 2010 6:53 am

    This production will be performed in its “entirety” with a Full Cast and 24-piece Orchestra on stage. All are “off book”. Fully costumed. Minimal sets with use of projected images and sounds to avoid the huge expense with helicopter, pink cadillac and other large pieces of scenery. The director has created some of the more complicated settings through the use of project images. Our patrons will not be disappointed.

    • Megan permalink
      April 25, 2010 5:39 pm

      Shouldn’t the public know that you are presenting the concert version of this show? As I stated before, the Miss Saigon ad in the SMTribune does not indicate this. I would certainly want to know before I purchased tickets. This is not to say that the concert version will not be great.

  9. Sally permalink
    April 25, 2010 7:43 pm

    We are not presenting a concert version of the show. A concert version usually means reading from the script, singing with script in hand, no costume and no sets or props. We began with the concept of In Concert but are now presenting the following concept as stated above:

    This production will be performed in its “entirety” with a Full Cast and 24-piece Orchestra on stage. All are “off book”. Fully costumed. Minimal sets with use of projected images and sounds to avoid the huge expense with helicopter, pink cadillac and other large pieces of scenery. The director has created some of the more complicated settings through the use of project images. Our patrons will not be disappointed.

  10. Sally permalink
    April 25, 2010 8:21 pm

    Here is the website for SGVMT’s Miss Saigon for clarification.

  11. Sally permalink
    April 25, 2010 8:23 pm

    Updated Concert Information for Miss Saigon!/event.php?eid=111343558899121&ref=ts

  12. Sally permalink
    April 25, 2010 8:27 pm

    Please highlight, copy and paste entire link below to get to the correct webpage. The above webpage is incomplete.!/event.php?eid=111343558899121&ref=ts

  13. Susanne permalink
    February 4, 2011 8:33 pm

    When is the next genuine musical going to happen with San Gabriel Music Theater? I’ve searched everywhere, and haven’t been able to find any information about future shows. My family is still waiting for the big one. We love the Playhouse and have attended many shows there, but we really don’t like big band shows. I would love to support this company but I can’t afford to pay $95.00 for a dinner and entertainment. Would someone let me know when the next musical is going to happen, if ever? Is this theater company still functioning?

    • February 7, 2011 8:16 am

      Wish my answer could be simple but it isn’t. We remain in the “black” on the books and plan to keep it that way. Funding musicals is an extrememly expensive project and our annual Big Band Concert and quarterly Cabarets bring income. Today’s financial circumstances making pledge drives very difficult as many theatre groups have to share the same dollar. We have recently hired and grant writer and are hopeful we can get some funding there. I understand your bloggers frustration. It is our frustration too. Please ask him/her to get on our mailing list and we will keep him/her apprised of upcoming shows. In fact, I will personally donate 2 tickets to him for our next production, tentatively planned for May 6. He/she can call the box office at 626. 282.1440 , leave his name and I will return the call or have Bobby call. Getting on our mailing list should also help and well as using our web site.

      • Sally permalink
        February 9, 2011 7:52 am

        CORRECTION: May 7

  14. Chrystal permalink
    February 8, 2011 2:51 pm

    I haven’t been able to find a review of the recent big band concert at the san gabriel playhouse. Could you please point me in the right direction? Thanks.

    • Sally permalink
      February 8, 2011 6:10 pm

      The Big Band Show 2011 at the Mission Playhouse was a huge success. Look for reviews in this week’s editions around San Gabriel Valley.

      Save the date May 7 for “Guys and Dolls”. More information coming soon.

  15. Chrystal permalink
    February 8, 2011 9:50 pm

    Thank you for the information. I’ll look in the san marino tribune for the big band show review. I can usually find good reviews here, but I haven’t seen any lately regarding the san gabriel playhouse shows. Some blogger indicated that the next playhouse show was tentatively planned for May 6th. Is it now on the 7th?

    • Sally permalink
      February 9, 2011 7:50 am

      Winston Chua from the SM Tribune gave us an excellent pre-show article with photos. Not sure if he will write another article but keep looking. Several local reporters attended our show and took photo for their papers. Keep your eyes open.

      Guys and Dolls will be May 7 at the Mission Playhouse, details to be announced soon. If you would like to be on our mailing list, please call our box office at 626 282-1440, leave your name, address and phone number on the answering maching and you will be contacted.

      Thanks for your interest in SGVMT

    • Chrystal permalink
      May 22, 2011 11:35 pm

      I looked for a review of your May 7th concert of Guys & Dolls but have not found one. Did Winston Chua of the San Marino Tribune review it? Did other newspapers review it. Please point me in the right direction and thank you for the great contribution to our community.

  16. Huiliang permalink
    February 10, 2011 10:33 pm

    Just curious, but why Guys and Dolls? Why not choose one of the following: Dreamgirls, Spelling Bee, All Shook Up, Urinetown, or Beehive. I think Dreamgirls would be a big hit!

    • Sally permalink
      February 22, 2011 4:56 pm

      In 2009 we started a Broadway In Concert initiative where we looked to produce a fully staged production with the orchestra on stage- at that time Guys and Dolls was set to make its mark at the Hollywood Bowl so we choose South Pacific— both of these classic shows allow us the opportunity to revitalize the show with a concept perfect for utilizing a lavish orchestra on stage. We also wanted this year to put on some exciting fund-raiser events and Guys and Dolls gave us the perfect theme to cross market– on April 9 we will be hosting a Casino Night in the opulent lobby and courtyard of the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse with vintage cars, hotbox girls and a ‘Luck Be A Lady’ theme. But we do hope in the years to come to start producing some of the wonderful shows you’ve mentioned.

  17. Lorraine permalink
    February 22, 2011 11:35 am

    Regarding the tea sympossisuum on March 26, may I bring my 3 grand daughters, ages 8, 10 and 14? They are very well-behaved and a joy for me to be with. Also I am so curious to know who your entertainers will be for this affair. Will you post their names, please? Thank you for working so hard to bring back this wondderful theater company. We miss it so much. We so love musicals.

    • Sally permalink
      February 22, 2011 4:57 pm

      We would love to have your grand daughters in attendance. Our performers are always subject to change / available – but we currently have hometown favorites: Ray Rochelle and Corinne Delgado in the line up.

      Please call our Box Office to make your reservations for the tea. 626.282.1440

      • Chrystal permalink
        February 22, 2011 6:20 pm

        I had no idea Corinne Delgado was a singer. That’s wonderful to know. Is this the same Corinne Delgado that is an officer of the Glendora Lyons Club?

      • Lorraine permalink
        February 23, 2011 9:25 pm

        Are children’s tickets for the tea symposiuum the same price as the adult tickets?

  18. Sally permalink
    February 23, 2011 11:36 pm

    Yes Lorraine. The prices will be the same.

  19. Huiliang permalink
    May 17, 2011 4:44 pm

    What’s the next concert version broadway musical you will be presenting and when? Would you please consider Beehive? I love upbeat music. Thanks.


  1. Broadway & touring stars in San Gabriel for Miss Saigon Saturday. «

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