|Ad in the local Vietnamese paper, promoting Miss Saigon.|
I would like to share an encounter I faced tonight that will particularly stay with me, for the rest of my life.
Tonight, after a long 2.5 hours of Miss Saigon, I went into the lobby of the La Mirada Theatre to greet my awesome friends who came out to see the show. We snapped a few pictures, shared some laughs about life and the show (..."that helicopter....my bad Miss Saigon IMAX experience" - Paul Rico....HAHAH.)
And while I was talking to my friends, a woman kinda waved to get my attention, and when she caught it, asked for a picture. I said, "Sure!" and stepped over to take a picture with them. There stood three middle-aged women, standing there just beaming with smiles. We took our picture, and then one of them blurted out.."WE'RE VIETNAMESE!".
I giggled, because I could tell they were, and said, "Oh, thank you SO much for coming out tonight. It means so much to me. Did you enjoy the show?"
Then behind my back, one woman said (in Vietnamese) ..."Wow, she is just so pretty up close".
And I replied (in Vietnamese), "Not as lovely or beautiful as you ladies tonight."
They looked back at me, just in silence.
"OH MY GOD YOU SPEAK VIETNAMESE TOO!!!"
And they immediately just started clapping, laughing and seemed so filled with joy. They were shocked that I was both fluent in English and Vietnamese. Lots of Vietnamese-American youth, especially those born here in the States, have really broken Vietnamese or hardly speak it at all. Mind you, my Vietnamese isn't perfect, but I know enough to survive. Then, our conversation began in both Vietnamese and English with these three beautiful Vietnamese women.
They saw the ad of Miss Saigon in the local Vietnamese Newspaper, and they wanted to see what the play was about. So, they drove out here from Garden Grove and had a "ladies night out". It was their first time seeing a musical. They heard a bit about Miss Saigon before but only knew that it had been a Broadway musical but never heard of actual Vietnamese people playing in it. (Vietnamese American community is very good at notifying Vietnamese about who is doing what in pop culture.)
Anyway, one of the women started choking up while she talked to me. She told me how proud she was of me, and that I was "representing her people, her country, and her story". And every time I opened my mouth to say something, they'd hug me, or hold my hand, and just rejoice in the fact that I was "the star" and that they could talk Vietnamese to me, and tell me everything they felt without having to translate.
They were thankful for the multitudes of ads, commercials and resources translated into Vietnamese that helped introduce them to the show and helped them buy tickets easier. The women continued to intertwine subjects, disrupting each other and finishing each other sentences about the musical. How effective the costumes were, how real the helicopter looked, how real the music felt to them, and how it brought back the pain of once was their reality. They even went as far as to asking if we needed help, if we needed more costumes, or even if they could help with tailoring of the costumes. They yearned to be apart of the show because they were so touched.
I began to feel so filled inside with this feeling...I dunno...harmony? Accomplishment? With a mixture of a thousand butterflies? Fulfillment...? Man. I don't even know. Something I don't think I've felt in a long time...or have ever felt. And when I started to choke up, the woman, who was the oldest out of the group asked me what my Vietnamese name was.
I said, "Do-Quyen" and she said, (in Vietnamese):
"Well, Do-Quyen. We are not your aunts. But you have gained family. We are going to tell every single person to come to see this show, not only because it was one of the greatest things I've seen, but to support you. To love you. To support what you've done for us tonight, the Vietnamese community, and for the young Vietnamese aspiring youth like you. Congratulations, Do-Quyen, Miss Saigon."
I politely said my goodbyes, and we went our separate ways. I grabbed my keys, turned off the lights in my dressing room, and walked out to my car. I sat there for a good 10 minutes. I saw the crew drive away, and just sat. I didn't cry, nor did I want to. I just tried to marinate the conversation I just had with these three beautiful Vietnamese women; marinate in the saga of a show I just finished tonight, and this entire process itself. My life is changing - I can feel its change. I could not feel more happy, or more honored right now.
And then I thought, "This. is. my. job."
|Here they are.|