NEW YORK, JULY 25 -- The Broadway production of the London hit "Miss Saigon" may be postponed because of complaints that the English star, a Caucasian, is being brought over to play the role of a Eurasian.
Producer Cameron Mackintosh said today that unless Actors' Equity, the U.S. union, drops its opposition to lead actor Jonathan Pryce within two weeks, the play would be withdrawn.
The union met Tuesday but failed to resolve the issue of whether Pryce, who plays a Eurasian brothel owner, will be permitted to perform in the American version of the musical. No date for a new meeting has been set.
"Unless Equity changes its position within the next two weeks, I will have no choice but to withdraw the production," Mackintosh said. "This is because any interruption in our current production schedule would leave us with insufficient time to prepare this huge and complicated show for a March 1991 opening."
The earliest "Miss Saigon" could be rescheduled is autumn 1992, Mackintosh said.
The controversy arose after a complaint was filed with Equity by David Henry Hwang, author of "M. Butterfly," and B.D. Wong, star of the same play. They were critical of the casting of a Caucasian in the musical, which is set in Saigon during the Vietnam War.
"I once again reaffirm our intention to look for Eurasian replacements and understudies, as well as actors to originate the role in other companies," Mackintosh wrote in a letter to Alan Eisenberg, an official of Actors' Equity. "As our worldwide efforts to date have proved unsuccessful, I would earnestly request that any candidates from among your membership who are in the right age group (40-45 years old), who are high baritones-tenors with an A flat top and who are of a 'star performance caliber' immediately contact Vinnie Liff of Johnson-Liff & Zerman Casting, with their credentials."
"Miss Saigon" is one of the most eagerly awaited shows of 1990-91 Broadway season. The musical already has a $24 million advance, the largest in Broadway history. It will also have the highest top ticket price for a Broadway musical -- $100 for selected seats in the mezzanine.