While in Hawai’i I read one reviewer’s suggestion that Miss Saigon was really about how Asian women are disposable in the face of an American and his frigid wife needing a baby of their own.
I did some more researching on some discussion lists and came up with a lost bootleg recording of the original ending of Miss Saigon. Boublil and Schonberg, the composers, changed the ending at the request of producer Cameron Mackintosh to the ending seen in London and later on Broadway: Vietnamese Kim kills herself so her American GI Chris can take their son to live in America with Chris’s wife, Ellen.
This ending was criticized because it reinforced the Madama Butterfly myth of obedient, penitent and sacrifical Asian women. They recorded both endings for the cast recording release but dropped it off the album due to concerns about confusing the musical’s racist sub-text. I am pretty sure this Lea Salonga singing Kim.
THE SACRED BIRD/FINALE
Scene: Kim’s Apartment
(Kim and her son Tam are packing for their journey to America. Kim stops to gaze at a picture of her long-dead parents)
From the picture I keep
You, my parents look out
And your smiles show no scorn.
I am happy today
For I know what to do
And my heart is not torn.
Spirits know where to fly
when it’s time.
There’s no reason to morn.
For the great sacred bird is reborn.
(Kim finishes packing and loads a gun. She puts earplugs in Tam’s ears)
CHRIS: (coming up the stairs with his wife, Ellen)
(Chris and Ellen rush in to find Kim holding a gun)
The gods have guided you to your son.
(Chris goes to Kim and Ellen moves to take Tam. Kim points the gun at Chris)
How in one night have we come so far?
(Kim shoots Chris once in the stomach. He screams in pain. Kim shoots him twice. His body slumps over, lifeless. Ellen stands stunned.)
(Ellen moves to Kim. Kim shoots her twice and she falls down dead.)
(Kim grabs Chris’s wallet from his lifeless body and takes Ellen’s purse. She and Tam exit for a new life in America.)