''MadameButterfly'', TheMusical. Penned by the legendary composers of ''Theatre/LesMiserables'' (Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil), ''Miss Saigon'' is a reworking of GiacomoPuccini's 1904 {{opera}} for more contemporary audiences, by [[RecycledINSPACE moving it to some new place]], specifically TheVietnamWar (setting) and Broadway (venue).

The date is April 1975. A group of American Marines are out for one last night on the town, since they will be pulling out of Saigon soon. They visit a sleazy nightclub called "Dreamland" run by an HonestJohn known as '''[[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep The Engineer]]''', and populated by a number of hookers, including '''Kim''', a 17-year-old girl who would probably be TheIngenue if it weren't for her profession. She catches the eye of '''Chris''', one of the marines; his friend '''John''' makes the arrangements, and the OfficialCouple get together. However, after finding out that Kim is a HeartwarmingOrphan, [[PetTheDog Chris offers to take her back to America with him]]. Of course, this is easier said than done, since the [[CommieLand Vietcong]] are going to be moving in on Saigon in a matter of days. Even better, Kim and Chris' [[FourthDateMarriage Fourth-Date]] AccidentalMarriage is interrupted by '''Thuy''', joint victim of a ChildhoodMarriagePromise their parents made. Of course, Kim's parents are dead, she loves Chris long time, ''and'' Thuy has gone over to the DirtyCommunists, so Kim's not going for it. Thuy promises revenge and storms out again.

TimeSkip to 1978, Ho Chi Minh City (what Saigon was renamed after the DirtyCommunists took it over). [[ForegoneConclusion Kim is still there]], living in poverty. Even though three years have passed, she is still devoted to Chris, [[IWillWaitForYou and has been waiting for him to rescue her]]. Chris is asleep with his new American wife, '''Ellen''', as it appears AbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder. (Maybe. He still has {{Catapult Nightmare}}s about the last time he saw her: in a crowd of would-be refugees being [[KillEmAll gunned down]] by the Commies.) Kim is still being stalked by Thuy, though, and reveals her motivation for HoldingOutForAHero: [[AsianBabymama she and Chris have a son]], '''Tam'''. Thuy goes a little AxCrazy over this and [[MamaBear Kim]] has to shoot him. She then goes to The Engineer, who points out that Tam having an American father ups their chances of being allowed to emigrate to America. As the curtain falls, they book passage to UsefulNotes/{{Bangkok}} as the first leg of this journey.

Act Two opens in America, where John is deeply involved in an American charity organization that helps with the aftermath of the war, specifically, linking American fathers to their "bui doi" (interracial) children. He tells Chris about Kim and Tam, which leaves Chris in the uncomfortable position of telling Ellen exactly why he wakes up yelling Kim's name sometimes; the three travel to Bangkok for some sort of family reunion. (Meanwhile, we have a {{Flashback}} to the Fall Of Saigon, where it turns out that Chris did his darnedest to get Kim out with him; in fact, John had to punch him to keep him from not boarding the chopper.) Kim goes to Chris' hotel room but finds only Ellen, who is not unsympathetic to her plight but doesn't want to be second fiddle to one of her husband's byblows. Ellen issues Chris an ultimatum - [[TriangRelations her or me]] - and Chris agrees to limit his contact with Kim and Tam to monetary support sent from America. Of course, Kim isn't particularly happy about this, so once the Americans are at her front door, she takes the only action left her: [[spoiler:she shoots and kills herself, leaving Tam's fate entirely in American hands]]. The curtain falls.

!!Provides Examples Of:

* AbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder: PlayedWith.
** Reversed: it's ''Chris'' who moved on and Kim who stayed faithful.
** Justified: he thought she was [[ILetGwenStacyDie dead]], a reasonable conclusion under the circumstances.
** Subverted: guilt left him in bad shape--TheMourningAfter lasted for more than a year, he suffers from nightmares, and has problems confiding in Ellen about the trauma he went through.
* AccidentalMarriage:
--> '''Chris:''' ''It's pretty, but what does it mean?''\\
'''Kim:''' ''It's what all the girls sing at weddings.''\\
'''Chris:''' *DoubleTake*\\
'''Kim:''' ''They didn't know what else to sing.''\\
'''Chris:''' ...''It's the prettiest thing I ever heard.''
* AdaptationalHeroism: Pinkerton, Chris's counterpart in ''Madame Butterfly'', was a massive {{Jerkass}}. Chris in this musical is presented as more of a NiceGuy.
* AmericaSavesTheDay: Subverted. Even mocked InUniverse by Chris:
--> '''Chris:''' ''Christ, I'm American, how could I fail to do good?''
* AntiVillain: The Engineer. Sure, the antagonist role is filled more by Thuy, but he dies during the first act. Nonetheless, the Engineer is a scoundrel, but you can't help but like him. He's clearly an entrepreneur -- someone who would be a ''lot'' more comfortable in America than Vietnam. Furthermore, it appears that he's just as desperate to escape the poverty and violence of Vietnam as the girls he pimps out--it's implied that he's had a hard life due to his biracial heritage. His methods may be greedy and self-serving, but given his motives, it's hard to hate him completely. And he even manages to have a few PetTheDog moments--in some versions of the ending, he's holding Tam [[spoiler: as the fatal gunshot rings out and instantly dives to protect him, then just as quickly shields him from seeing his mother's body]]
* AscendedExtra: In the initial London production, Ruthie Henshall was one of the nameless bar girls. Several years later, she was cast in the role of Ellen. In fact, many of the actresses playing the bar girls eventually took on the role of Kim or Ellen.
** Ellen and The Engineer's role are far more expanded than their counterparts in MadameButterfly.
* AsianBabymama
* BigNo: Depending on how much [[ChewingTheScenery scenery Chris wants to chew]].
** This actually happens twice. Once by Kim after she [[spoiler: fatally shoots Thuy]], and the other by Chris after [[spoiler: Kim fatally shoots herself]].
*** Three times in some versions, if you count Chris [[spoiler: flying away in the chopper shouting, "KIM!"]]
* BlatantLies: "The Ambassador won't leave until everyone's out!"
** Also at the end, when Kim tells the Engineer that Chris was overjoyed to see her and is coming to take them all to America.
* CannotSpitItOut: When John finds Kim, he can't bring himself to tell her that Chris has moved on and married. Ostensibly because he feels it's Chris' place to do so, but mostly because Kim is overjoyed at the prospect of reuniting with Chris and he can't bring himself to break her heart.
* CatapultNightmare: Chris bolts upright in bed after yet another bad dream about Kim. Depending on the actress, Kim herself often does this following her flashback to when she and Chris were separated during the fall of Saigon.
* ChekhovsGun: Done literally, twice, with Chris' gun - this actually follows the original "see a gun in the first act, fire it in the third" formula very well.
* ChildhoodMarriagePromise: The fact that this suddenly got overturned by the AsianHookerStereotype is a big part of what drove Thuy off the deep end.
* CounterpointDuet: "I Still Believe", sung by Kim and Ellen. The main "counterpoint" is the setting--Kim is alone in a hovel in Saigon while Ellen is in a comfortable bedroom in America, [[spoiler: sitting next to the sleeping Chris. Their lyrics are actually quite similar--each woman sings of her love for Chris, Kim of how much she misses him and hopes to be reunited with him, Ellen of wishing that he would confide in her and stop keeping her at arms' length.]]
* CrosscastRole: Tam. He's a toddler and has no lines, so it scarcely matters.
* CutSong: "Too Much For One Heart", sung by Kim. Lea Salonga still keeps it in her concert repertoire [[CrowningMusicOfAwesome and with good reason]]. There is also the finale "The Sacred Bird", heard initially when the show opened in London, but since pared down.
** Ellen's solo, "Her or Me", heard on the London Cast Recording, is modified into "Now That I've Seen Her" in all others, basically by replacing the first line with the second.
** Inverted in the London revival, as Ellen has been given a new song, "Maybe", intended to generate more sympathy for her, an often reviled character.
* [[spoiler: {{Died In Your Arms Tonight}}: Thuy dies in Kim's arms and she dies in Chris' arms.]]
* DiesWideOpen: [[spoiler: Thuy]], at least according to "Kim's Nightmare:"
--> '''[[spoiler: Thuy]]''': This is the face you saw that day
--> Staring at you with open eyes.
* DownerEnding: It's based on an Opera, what were you expecting?
* {{Eagleland}}: The Engineer's song, "The American Dream".
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: The Engineer.
* {{Expy}}: Virtually every main character is a recreation of his/her counterpart in ''MadameButterfly''.
** Kim is Cio-Cio San (Madame Butterfly).
** Chris is B. F. Pinkerton.
** The Engineer is Goro.
** John is Sharpless.
** Ellen is Kate.
** Thuy is The Bonze and Prince Yamadori.
** Tam is Dolore ("Sorrow").
* FinalSpeech: Kim.
* FiveSecondForeshadowing: Pay attention to the music that plays just before Kim [[spoiler: fatally shoots herself.]] It's the same music from Act I when she sings [[spoiler: "I have had my fill of pain, I will not go back again, '''I would rather die."''']]
* ForegoneConclusion
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Present in the majority of the songs in the show but it's Kim's song [[spoiler: "I'd Give My Life For You"]] that really takes this trope and hits the audience over the head with it, [[spoiler:as it turns out this is exactly what she ends up doing.]]
** One ''extremely'' subtle example from Chris when John tells him that Kim is alive:
--> '''Chris''': [[spoiler: You don't know, John, these nightmares, the things that I've seen / I have seen her face burned, '''seen her shot with my gun.''']]
** Guess what Kim uses to [[spoiler: kill herself with.]]
* HalfBreedDiscrimination: Kim is trying to prevent her son from experiencing this, knowing full well that he will be shunned because he's the half-white illegitimate son of an American GI. Indeed, the fact that her cousin Thuy tried to KILL the boy demonstrates how rampant the feelings of contempt towards such children are.
** Even The Engineer might count as this. One wonders if he may have had the chance to be more than a pimp had he not been the illegitimate son of a prostitute and her Frenchman customer.
** Discussed in the song "Bui Doi," John's (InUniverse) pitch to fellow [=GIs=].
* HeWhoMustNotBeHeard: Tam is a silent role.
* HeartwarmingOrphan: Kim.
--> '''Chris:''' ''She's no whore; you saw her too.\\
She's really more, like... The April moon.''
--> '''John''': ...[[ReactionShot The April fuckin' moon??]]
* HeroicBSOD: Chris is said to have suffered one lasting a full year after [[spoiler: losing Kim during the Fall of Saigon.]]
* HeroicSacrifice: Although she's devastated to see that Chris has moved on, Kim almost instantly puts her feelings aside in order to beg Ellen to take Tam to America so that he can have a better life, [[spoiler: then kills herself to ensure this]]
* HonestJohnsDealership: The Engineer
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Kim, in name only. She isn't presented as being particularly sexualized; in fact, her appeal to Chris seems to be more on the grounds of NatureAdoresAVirgin.
-->'''Kim:''' ''I'm seventeen, and I'm new here today\\
The village I come from seems so far away\\
All of the girls know much more what to say,\\
But I know: [[{{Narm}} I have a heart like the sea]]\\
A million dreams are in me!''\\
'''Chris:''' ''[[LoveAtFirstSight Good Jesus John who is she???]]''
* ILetGwenStacyDie
* IronicEcho: Kim's final line showed up previously when the two were pledging their love. In the song "Sun and Moon," just as they were falling in love, Chris asks Kim, "How in the light of one night did we come so far?" In the "Finale," [[spoiler:just before she dies in his arms]], she asks him "How in one night have we come... so far?"
* IWantSong: "The Movie In My Mind" and "The American Dream."
* IWillWaitForYou: Kim has pledged this to herself for Chris during the three years she spent without him.
* KissingCousins: Thuy is certainly hoping to make this happen, but Kim (the cousin in question) wants no part of it.
* LargeHam: Come on, guys. It's a ''musical.'' (As Literature/BridgetJones puts it, "Strange men standing around with their legs apart bellowing songs straight ahead.")
* {{Last Kiss}}: [[spoiler: Chris and Kim kiss one last time leading to the {{Ironic Echo}} quoted above]]
* TheLostLenore: Kim and Chris to each other. For both, for how they were wrenched apart during the Fall of Saigon. For him, for those three years where he's uncertain if she's dead or alive--and when she ultimately kills herself, for her, for those three years that they were apart, only to find that he's moved on and gotten married.
* LovableRogue: Sure, the Engineer is a scoundrel, but he's so charismatic that you can't help but like him.
* LovableTraitor: If the Engineer isn't a LovableRogue, he's probably this.
* LoveDodecahedron, or perhaps two instances of {{Love Triangle}}s.
* LoveMakesYouEvil: Thuy's complete devotion to Kim, even after all those years, leads to him trying to kill her child in order to keep their honour. Might also be see as an AlternativeCharacterInterpretation.
* MamaBear: Both Kim and Ellen, especially during their one meeting. Even though Ellen doesn't ''have'' kids yet.
* MoodWhiplash: The end of "Last Night of the World", one of Kim and Chris' love songs, segues right from the ending notes into the VillainSong, "Morning of the Dragon."
* MurderTheHypotenuse: Thuy threatens this against Chris. Then ''Kim'' actually ''does it'' to him (granted, he ''was'' declaring his intention to [[spoiler: kill her son at the time, so [[MamaBear her response was far from unjustified.) (''Then'' she does it to ''herself''!)]]]]
* NonindicativeName: Kim does not actually win the "Miss Saigon" pageant.
** However, Gigi toasts Kim as the "real" Miss Saigon due to Kim and Chris falling in love and believing Kim will leave Saigon.
* PietaPlagiarism: ''Twice'': [[spoiler: once after Kim shoots Thuy, and once after she shoots herself.]]
* PleaseSelectNewCityName: Saigon actually ''was'' renamed Ho Chi Minh City. Most of its residents don't call it that, though.
* RaceLift: Towards the end of the show's Broadway run, the role of Ellen, typically played by a white actress (specifically, a blonde or redhead) was cast with Margaret Ann Gates, who is Asian, resulting in a likely example of the ReplacementGoldfish trope--it now seemed as though Chris married Ellen only because she reminded him of Kim, rather than to move on with his life.
** The role of John was initially played by a white actor, but soon replaced with African-American ones.
* [[RecycledINSPACE Recycled IN VIETNAM!]]
* SayMyName: "KIIIIIIIIIIIIIMMMMMM!" During the fall of Saigon and at the end, which can be combined with a BigNo depending on the actor.
* SecurityCling:
** Kim and Chris to each other during the song "The Last Night Of The World". "So stay with me and hold me tight. . ."
** [[spoiler: Chris and Ellen throughout "I Still Believe" sometimes with a SexyDiscretionShot at the end. Understandable, as she's comforting him after a nightmare.]]
** Kim to Chris at the end of the play.
* {{Sexophone}}: LampshadeHanging within the musical itself.
* SexyDiscretionShot: The lights begin to dim as Kim and Chris undress, then go out completely as they get into bed. [[spoiler: There's similar staging for his love scene with Ellen.]]
* ShellShockedVeteran: Chris, as he often has nightmares of his time during the war. Also combined with his falling in love with Kim, of course.
** The lyrics of "Bui Doi" indicate John is pretty shaken up too, even if he's in better shape than Chris.
* ShootTheMoney: Theater writer Peter Filichia wrote in the book ''Let's Put on a Musical'' that the probable reason the story is told out of sequence was so the show's big special effect -- the last helicopter taking off during the fall of Saigon -- could be saved for the second act.
* SingleMomStripper: Kim becomes this after Tam is born, although she had started work as a pole dancer before anyway.
* SubliminalAdvertising: Look very closely at the helicopter logo: you can see the face of a woman in the slipstream. [[IncrediblyLamePun Props]] go to the graphic designer, who was asked by Cameron Mackintosh to include the face of a woman somehow in the logo.
* TemptingFate: [[spoiler: Thuy's]] last words to [[spoiler: Kim]] are, "You don't know how to kill!" He says this about five seconds before she shoots him dead.
* TimeSkip: Halfway through the first act. "Last Night Of The World" ends with Chris and Kim embracing on a balcony. The ending notes segue right into the beginning of the next song, "The Morning Of The Dragon", commemorating the third anniversary of the reunion of Vietnam.
* TheVietnamWar
* VillainSong: "The American Dream" is The Engineer's big villain song, though almost every other bit part he sings can count too. The ironic thing is that The Engineer isn't an antagonistic character, he's just a sleazy businessman.
** "The Morning of The Dragon", which is a Viet Cong platoon's marching song as they burn down a village.
* WhatTheHellHero: John gives this to Ellen and Chris regarding their decision to leave Tan and Kim in Bangkok with monetary support, a decision that they try to spin as best for all involved but in truth is about maintaining their own comfort, telling them that they "are talking like fools" and seeming downright disgusted with them at one point; "I hope you two are proud of what you just as said."
* WouldHurtAChild: Thuy tries to [[spoiler: stab Tam dead for being Chris' bastard son. Tam is ''two years old.'']]
* {{Yellowface}}: In the original West End (London) debut, the Engineer was played by white actor ''Jonathan Pryce''. This was ''[[ extremely controversial]]'', but it didn't stop him from winning a Tony Award for his performance.
** It was also counter-argued that the Engineer is Eurasian (half-Vietnamese and half-French).