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Róisín Meets podcast: ‘We need to be reminded of what war does to people’

Miss Saigon actors Ashley Gilmour and Red Concepcion are this week’s guests

“People need to be reminded of how horrific war is and what war does to people and what kind of people it creates,” says Miss Saigon star Red Concepcion.

“I think that’s why Miss Saigon is very timely and that’s why it has endured as a modern classic,” the Filipino actor tells Róisín Ingle on the latest Róisín Meets podcast.

The musical is based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly and tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover, set in 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War.

Concepcion’s co-star Ashley Gilmour agrees that the show, which is currently coming towards the end of its seven-week run at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin, resonates with audiences as strongly today as it did when it first opened on Broadway in 1989.

“There’s always going to be war and there’s always going to be families torn apart by it. None of that is ever going to go away, unfortunately… It’s so important for this show to be seen by people and for people to have this experience,” Gilmour says.

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The character played by Concepcion, the sleazy hustler The Engineer, is probably the biggest role for an Asian actor in musical theatre. Gilmour says it can be difficult for Asian actors like Concepcion to win the big roles outside of their home countries, but things are improving on the West End and Broadway for actors of different ethnicities.

“Things have started to open up. I think they call it ‘colour-blind casting’, so people from any ethnic background can have the opportunity to play these parts,” he says.

Also on the podcast, Concepcion speaks about how he got into musical theatre growing up in the Philippines and what it’s like to play a despicable character every night, while he and Gilmour also talk about the audience reaction to the violent and sexual scenes in Miss Saigon for the past six weeks in Dublin.

Miss Saigon continues at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin until November 18th

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