When the soundtrack to “Miss Saigon” first came out, I bought it, listened once, and sold it to a used CD shop. Yesterday I had a craving to hear the one song I remember (if I’m not nuts), a funny song (perhaps performed by Pryce?) about the hookers. Something like “Girls, lots of girls…”etc. A look at the CD track list on Amazon and at www.misssaigon.com reveals no track which rings a bell or suggests it’s funny. What’s the title of that song? Do I have the right musical?
It’s called “What a Waste.” The lyrics can be found here.
It’s near the beginning of Act II – The Engineer had taken Kim and her baby to Thailand, convinced that the child would serve as a way to get him a U.S. visa – but nothing came of it. So the once-proud pimp is reduced to hawking passersby into one of the many Thai nudie bars. It’s upbeat and humorous, yes, in that The Engineer is hardly a sympathetic character, and the fact that he’s now earning ten cents an hour spinning ever-more-fantastic lies to get people into his bar, and not the other ones, is kind of funny.
Just as an aside… there are a few spots in musical theater that really cause me to tear up… or would that is, if I weren’t such a tough, manly bastard. And the point in Miss Saigon where Chris is on the phone, pleading that Kim be home to hear him call, while Kim is outside is the embassy, pleading that Chris somehow see her… that’s just heart-wrenching.
I’ve seen the show ten times, and the memory of that moment still gets me.
“What a Waste.” Yep, that was it. Thanks!
The Engineer had another very funny number, toward the end of the show, called “American Dream,” in which he fantasizes about what a big shot he’d be in America.
Am I the only one that VERY MUCH prefers the original ending (as it is on the Original London Cast Recording) to the one that they changed it to circa 1992?
That one is just WEAK and not nearly as powerful emotionally.
What’s the new ending? I saw the show in the summer of '92 with my musical-freak roommate, and since he never mentioned a changed ending, I assume the one we saw (where Kim kills herself at the end so that her son can go with Chris) was the original.
Oh, the ending itself is the same, but they completely changed the music and lyrics from the way they originally went.
Changes made since the original 1989 London production:
Lyrics to opening number (before “The Heat Is On In Saigon”) radically changed.
Ellen (Chris’ American wife) made out to be less of a bitch. “It’s Her or Me” changed to a more sympathetic lyric, titled “Now That I’ve Seen Her” (same tune).
and the ending, of course.
There are a couple of other lyrical tweaks here and there, but these are the main ones I can remember right now.
I have to say, the whole fall of Saigon sequence was incredibly well conceived, choreographed, and executed - going from floor to floor, from place to place. It’s too bad Nicholas Hytner isn’t doing more musicals. That kind of fluidity, as well as that seen in the Kate Bush video “This Woman’s Work,” inspired the opening sequence (“The Ride Home”) of my second musical, Willows.