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The Little Prince in Saigon
Bradley Winterton
Tuesday,  Nov 13, 2012,21:37 (GMT+7)

The Little Prince in Saigon

Bradley Winterton

By Bradley Winterton in HCMC

A scene of The Little Prince’s fi rst performance at Phu Nhuan Cultural Centre in HCMC’s Phu Nhuan District last week - Photo: Courtesy of the organizers

It was impossible not to like The Little Prince, Dragonfly Theatre’s third production which opened a run of six performances last Thursday.

In some ways it followed in the footsteps of their first show, The Importance of Being Earnest, with many of the same cast-members appearing again. The Vietnamese actresses who played Gwendolen and Cecily were there, this time as the Prince himself (Nguyen Lan Phuong) and as the Snake and the Vain Woman (Nguyen Ha Tu Trinh). As before, between them, with truly excellent performances, they stole the show.

But this was an evening that was delightful in almost every way. Tracks from Lady Gaga, Pink Floyd, Radiohead and others helped the show along, and one of the authors of this stage-adaptation of Saint-Exuperey’s original tale, Aaron Toronto, proved a reliable anchor as the Aviator.

The story was effectively told with flats depicting the Sahara and/or a starry universe, together with a section of a propeller-driven plane, a well (rather an elaborate affair for a desert, but it didn’t matter), and a stab at the asteroid B-612. The sound system that amplified the voices for the Phu Nhuan Cultural Center was, on Thursday night anyway, less effective than it might have been for some characters, though inexplicably perfect for the King, played with considerable panache by Do Tran Anh-Minh.

Ngo Thuy Bich rendered the Rose with quiet confidence. And then there was co-script-writer and director Jaime Zuniga, energizing events with bravura performances as the Lamplighter, the Tippler and the Fox. Where would Dragonfly Theatre be without him?

The Little Prince hasn’t lacked for adaptations – there’s even a wonderful opera, with music by Rachel Portman, that premiered in 2003 and is available on DVD from the BBC. The tale is a sort of moral parable about what’s important in life and what isn’t, but it works because of its humor and its charm. Dragonfly’s new version had both these in abundance.

The company has been experiencing some problems with venues, but these have now been resolved. In fact the show’s pre-publicity has been so successful that an extra performance has been scheduled for November 20, at the Phu Nhuan Cultural Center. This is in addition to shows on November 10 and 17 at the Saigon Superbowl, and another at the Phu Nhuan Cultural Center on November 15. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.

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