When you're borrowing ideas, you might as well borrow from the best. That's exactly what Claude-Michel Schnberg did when he used Giacomo Puccini's Madame Butterfly as inspiration for his award-winning Miss Saigon, presented here by Theatre Under the Stars. Like the opera, Schnberg's musical follows an Asian woman who is abandoned by her American lover. But Schnberg moved the story from Japan to Vietnam, beginning just before the terrible fall of Saigon in 1975. The central character, Kim, is a virgin forced to work at the sleazy Dreamland bar, where she meets her American. The two are separated in an enormously dramatic scene filled with the sounds of helicopters flying in and the terrified screams of all the people, including Kim, who are being left behind to fend for themselves as the North Vietnamese take over. The second half of the musical tells what happens when the two eventually reunite. The music, including songs such as "The Movie in My Mind" and "The Heat Is on in Saigon," artfully tells the story of these anguished lovers. 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through February 21. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit www.tuts.com. $24 to $117.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Feb. 9. Continues through Feb. 21, 2010