Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Miss Saigon’s Francis Jue Receives Elliot Norton Award Nomination for Outstanding Musical Performance by an Actor

Francis Jue (Engineer) in North Shore Music Theatre's production of Miss Saigon. Photo © Paul Lyden

Francis Jue (Engineer) in North Shore Music Theatre’s production of Miss Saigon. Photo © Paul Lyden

Congrats to Francis Jue on receiving an Elliot Norton Award nomination for Outstanding Musical Performance by an Actor, for his critically-acclaimed turn as The Engineer in North Shore Music Theatre’s production of Miss Saigon, for which he also garnered a 2014 IRNE Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. Jue recently completed an Off-Broadway run in Signature Theatre’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu.

Francis Jue as Lee's father, Hoi-Chuen. Photo by Joan Marcus

Francis Jue as Bruce Lee’s father, Hoi-Chuen. Photo by Joan Marcus

The awards are presented annually by The Boston Theater Critics Association (BTCA) (Don Aucoin, Jared Bowen, Terry Byrne, Carolyn Clay, Nick Dussault, Iris Fanger, Joyce Kulhawik, Kilian Melloy, Bob Nesti, and Ed Siegel) to honor the outstanding productions, directors, designers, and performers audiences see on Greater Boston stages all year long. The Boston Theater Critics Association (BTCA) will hand out the Elliot Norton Awards, celebrating its 32nd anniversary, on Monday, May 19 at the Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway Boston, MA 02215. Ceremony highlights include musical performances, The Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence, a guest of honor, who is a theater artist who has enriched the cultural life of our region, and post-ceremony party.

In the past, that distinguished list of honorees has included, among others: Chita Rivera, Tommy Tune, Al Pacino, Edward Albee, Brian Dennehy, August Wilson, Julie Harris, Sir Ian McKellen, Lynn Redgrave, and Jason Robards.

Here’s what the critics had to say about Francis Jue’s portrayal of The Engineer in North Shore Music Theatre’s Miss Saigon.

Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

BOSTON GLOBE:’Miss Saigon’ at North Shore Music Theatre by Don Aucoin (November 8, 2013)
“Always hovering near the star-crossed lovers in “Miss Saigon” is a character known only as the Engineer. The proprietor of a sleazy bar, a pimp, a profiteer, and an all-around opportunist, the Engineer sees the romance between Kim and Chris as his ticket to America. The success of any “Miss Saigon” is heavily dependent on the caliber of the actor cast in this role. (He’s as crucial to “Miss Saigon” as the Emcee, whom he resembles in certain respects, is to “Cabaret.”) In that regard, the NSMT production succeeds handsomely, because the Engineer is played by Francis Jue, a 2008 Obie Award winner for his performance in David Henry Hwang’s “Yellow Face.”

Jue delivers an indelible portrait of a Mephistophelean hustler who doesn’t so much walk as slither, a cannily corrupt survivor adept at switching allegiances to fit the political moment in a country where power is always changing hands. “Give me francs or dollars or yen/ I’ll set up a game/ I know how it works,” he sings in “If You Want To Die in Bed.” Jue excels in one of the show’s best numbers, “The American Dream,” a jauntily cynical tribute to untrammeled capitalism, gleefully sung by the Engineer while dollar-bill-clutching members of the ensemble spin a star-spangled, red-white-and-blue arch about the stage.”

Wicked Local: Passionate Performances fuel searing, stunning ‘Miss Saigon’ in Beverly by Sally Applegate (November 6, 2013)
“Francis Jue is compelling as that cynical survivor, the Engineer. He has a magnificent voice, and his sharp performance is permeated with subtle humor and a burning interior rage. His performance of “The American Dream” is embellished by American businessmen swaying back and forth brandishing handfuls of cash, as cash also floats down from the ceiling into the audience and busty blondes wiggle nearby.”

BWW REVIEW: The Heat is on in ‘Miss Saigon’ at NSMT by Jan Nargi (November 17, 2013)
“Another potent performance is turned in by Francis Jue as the angry and opportunistic Eurasian “businessman” The Engineer. Wily, seductive, wry but also well aware of the dangers around him, he is the ultimate salesman when peddling the flesh of his working girls and the ultimate survivor when evading the wrath of Saigon’s newly installed fascist regime. He infuses “The American Dream,” a vaudeville-style number that simultaneously exalts and denigrates capitalism, with both a lusty desire and a hissing cynicism that strike at the heart of the unbridgeable gap between the have-nots and the haves.”

NoBo Magazine: Miss Saigon at the North Shore Music Theatre by Keith Spencer (November 7, 2013)
“Despite the production’s darker overtones, constant comic relief emanated from the lines, lyrics, and onstage presence of The Engineer. Masterfully portrayed by Francis Jue, The Engineer maniacally maneuvers the underground worlds of Saigon and Bangkok with such a sharp wit and occasional outrage. His embellished, wanna-be American persona is further propagated by his performance of The American Dream. Despite a highly cynical and selfish outlook, I just couldn’t help but cheer for Jue and The Engineer’s ultimate success.”

Theatre Mirror: Miss Saigon by Tony Annicone (November 7, 2013)
“The biggest scene stealer in the show is Francis Jue as the Engineer. He helps the GI’s by supplying them with girls in his sex shop called Dreamland and later on entices the tourists in a Bangkok sex shop. Francis gives the audience the comic moments needed to escape from the harsh reality of the war. The character is reminiscent of the Emcee in “Cabaret” at times. Francis is a triple threat performer who wows you with his talent. His voice is incredible and his most impressive numbers are the well known vaudeville type song “The American Dream” where he sings about finally escaping from Bangkok, “If You Want to Die in Bed” which vocally is reminiscent of Judas in “Jesus Christ Superstar”, ”The Night of the Dragon” where he pleads for his life before the Communists, “What a Waste” where he and the male chorus sing about his new sex shop and his two songs with Kim. Francis’s performance captivates you all night long.”

NEW ENGLAND THEATRE GEEK: Kissinger would have cried: MISS SAIGON by Craig Idlebrook (November 20, 2013)
“Jue is allowed full license to bring a beautiful physicality to the Engineer, even while maintaining an eerie realism to the larger-than-life character. The Engineer could easily have devolved into caricature, but Jue constructs layers upon layers into the character’s psyche, until even the Engineer doesn’t know what he really thinks.”

The Elliot Norton Awards are named for the eminent Boston theater critic Elliot Norton, who remained an active supporter of the drama, both locally and nationally, until his death in 2003 at the age of 100. The Boston theater community carries on his legacy and can be proud of its remarkable growth at a time in our nation’s history when the arts are truly struggling to survive.

Tickets are $30 ($10 off discount “norton2014” is good through April 30, 2014) For tickets and information visit www.nortonawardsboston.com or by calling Wheelock Family Theatre 617-879-2300.

The 32nd Annual Elliot Norton Awards Nominations

Elliot Norton Lifetime Achievement Award:

      • Olympia Dukakis

Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence:

      • Paul Daigneault

Outstanding Visiting Production

      • Mies Julie (Baxter Theatre Centre, presented by ArtsEmerson)
      • Waiting for Godot (Gare St Lazare Players and Dublin Theatre Festival, presented by ArtsEmerson)
      • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bristol Old Vic in association with Handspring Puppet Company, presented by ArtsEmerson)

Outstanding Production by a Large Resident Theater

      • All the Way (American Repertory Theater)
      • The Heart of Robin Hood (American Repertory Theater) Venus in Fur (Huntington Theatre Company)

Outstanding Production by a Midsize Theater

      • Tribes (SpeakEasy Stage Company)
      • Imagining Madoff (New Repertory Theatre)
      • The Cherry Orchard (Actors’ Shakespeare Project)

Outstanding Production by a Small Theater

      • Windowmen (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre)
      • How We Got On (Company One)
      • The Flick (Company One)

Outstanding Production by a Fringe Theater

      • Punk Rock (Zeitgeist Stage Company)
      • The Normal Heart (Zeitgeist Stage Company)
      • The Libertine (Bridge Repertory Theater)

Outstanding Design, Large Theater

      • The Heart of Robin Hood: Set design by Börkur Jónsson, costumes by Emma Ryott, lighting by Björn Helgason, sound by Jonathan Deans (American Repertory Theater)
      • Mies Julie: Set and lighting design by Patrick Curtis, original lighting design by Paul Abrams, costumes by Birrie Le Roux, music composed and performed by Daniel and Matthew Pencer (Baxter Theatre Centre, presented by ArtsEmerson)
      • The Jungle Book: Scenic design by Daniel Ostling, costumes by Mara Blumenfeld, lighting by T.J. Gerckens, sound by Joshua Horvath, Ray Nardelli, and Andre J. Pluess (Huntington Theatre Company)

Outstanding Design, Midsize, Small or Fringe Theater

      • Windowmen: Scenic design by Andrew R. Phelps, sound and lighting by David Wilson, costumes by Rachel Padula Shufelt (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre)
      • The Flick: Scenic design by Cristina Todesco, lighting by Jen Rock, costumes by Amanda Maciel Antunes, sound by Edward Young, props master Anita Shriver (Company One)
      • The Whale: Scenic design by Cristina Todesco, costumes by Gail Astrid Buckley, lighting by Jeff Adelberg, sound David Remedios (SpeakEasy Stage Company)

Outstanding Musical Production by a Large Theater

      • Once (Broadway in Boston)
      • The Jungle Book (Huntington Theatre Company)
      • Witness Uganda (American Repertory Theater)

Outstanding Musical Production by a Midsize, Small or Fringe Company

      • Thoroughly Modern Millie (Stoneham Theatre)
      • It’s a Horrible Life (Gold Dust Orphans)
      • Hairspray (Wheelock Family Theatre)

Outstanding Musical Performance by an Actor

      • Andre De Shields, The Jungle Book (Huntington Theatre Company)
      • Paul Melendy, It’s a Horrible Life (Gold Dust Orphans)
      • Francis Jue, Miss Saigon (North Shore Music Theatre)

Outstanding Musical Performance by an Actress

      • Melody Betts, Witness Uganda (American Repertory Theater)
      • Aimee Doherty, On the Town (Lyric Stage Company of Boston), Hairspray (Wheelock Family Theatre)
      • Ephie Aardema, Thoroughly Modern Millie (Stoneham Theatre)

Outstanding New Script

      • Windowmen, by Steven Barkhimer (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre)
      • Absence, by Peter M. Floyd (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre)
      • Breaking the Shakespeare Code, by John Minigan (Vagabond Theatre Company)

Outstanding Director, Large Theater

      • Gisli Örn Gardarsson, The Heart of Robin Hood (American Repertory Theater)
      • Mary Zimmerman, The Jungle Book (Huntington Theatre Company)
      • Yael Farber, Mies Julie (Baxter Theatre Centre, presented by ArtsEmerson)

Outstanding Director, Midsize Theater

      • M. Bevin O’Gara, Tribes (SpeakEasy Stage Company)
      • Ilyse Robbins, Thoroughly Modern Millie (Stoneham Theatre)
      • Melia Bensussen, The Cherry Orchard (Actors’ Shakespeare Project)

Outstanding Director, Small or Fringe Theater

      • Summer L. Williams, How We Got On (Company One)
      • David J. Miller, Punk Rock and The Normal Heart (Zeitgeist Stage Company)
      • Shawn LaCount, The Flick (Company One)

Outstanding Actor, Large Theater

      • Bryan Cranston, All the Way (American Repertory Theater)
      • Bongile Mantsai, Mies Julie (Baxter Theatre Center, presented by ArtsEmerson)
      • Denis O’Hare, An Iliad (Homer’s Coat, presented by ArtsEmerson)

Outstanding Actress, Large Theater

      • Hilda Cronje, Mies Julie (Baxter Theatre Center, presented by ArtsEmerson)
      • Andrea Syglowski, Venus in Fur (Huntington Theatre Company)
      • Christina Bennett Lind, The Heart of Robin Hood (American Repertory Theater)

Outstanding Actor, Midsize Theater

      • John Kuntz, The Whale (SpeakEasy Stage Company)
      • Steven Barkhimer, The Cherry Orchard (Actors’ Shakespeare Project)
      • Jeremiah Kissel, Imagining Madoff (New Repertory Theatre)

Outstanding Actress, Midsize Theater

      • Erica Spyres, Tribes (SpeakEasy Stage Company)
      • Georgia Lyman, The Whale (SpeakEasy Stage Company)
      • Marianna Bassham, The Cherry Orchard (Actors’ Shakespeare Project)

Outstanding Actor, Small or Fringe Theater

      • Phil Gillen, Punk Rock (Zeitgeist Stage Company)
      • Alex Pollock, This Is Our Youth (Gloucester Stage Company), Windowmen (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), The Flick (Company One)
      • Victor Shopov, The Normal Heart (Zeitgeist Stage Company)

Outstanding Actress, Small or Fringe Theater

      • Maureen Adduci, The Normal Heart (Zeitgeist Stage Company)
      • Brenna Fitzgerald, The Flick (Company One)
      • Cloteal Horne, How We Got On (Company One)

Outstanding Ensemble, Large Theater

      • All the Way (American Repertory Theater)
      • The Heart of Robin Hood (American Repertory Theater)
      • The Seagull (Huntington Theatre Company)

Outstanding Ensemble, Midsize, Small or Fringe Theater

      • Punk Rock (Zeitgeist Stage Company)
      • Windowmen (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre)
      • Hairspray (Wheelock Family Theatre)
      • Thoroughly Modern Millie (Stoneham Theatre)

Other articles on Francis Jue:
Francis Jue, At Home on the Stage
Signature’s Production of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu, starring Cole Horibe, Phoebe Strole and Francis Jue, extends through April 6, 2014
Photos: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
Signature’s Production Photos of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu, Opens February 24, 2014
Celebrating the Year of the Horse with David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu at Signature Theatre; Previews begin February 4, 2014
Feb. 4 – Mar. 16: Phoebe Strole, Jon Rua, Join Cole Horibe and More for Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
Feb. 4 – Mar. 16: Cole Horibe, Francis Jue, Peter Kim and More Set for Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
Ron Domingo, Francis Jue and Jon Norman Schneider Join the Cast of the World Premiere of Paper Dolls at the Tricycle Theatre, February 28 – April 13, 2013
Photos: All-Access Pass to Disney’s Aladdin at The Muny with Thom Sesma, Francis Jue, Robin De Jesus, John Tartaglia, Jason Graae, Curtis Holbrook, Eddie Korbich, Samantha Massell and Ken Page
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Oskar Eustis, BD Wong, Brian d’Arcy James, Francis Jue, Jennifer Lim and Leigh Silverman at WNYC’s The Greene Space
Nothing is Sacred in David Henry Hwang’s Comedy of Mistaken Racial Identity

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Lucille Lortel Awards for Here Lies Love, Fun Home, The Open House, Good Person of Szechwan
Apr. 29-May 17: Gordana Rashovich, Mia Dillon and Brian Murray Lead Cast of Westport Country Playhouse’s A SONG AT TWILIGHT
May 19: The Orphan of Zhao’s BD Wong and A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff in Conversation at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater
May 1-30: Eating Cultures, A Multidisciplinary Art Exhibition at SOMArts Cultural Center, Features Christine Toy Johnson, Cathy Lu, Genevieve Erin O’Brien, Kate Hers Rhee and More
Jun. 4-29: Tony Award–winner BD Wong Leads Cast of A.C.T.’s U.S. Premiere of Orphan of Zhao, a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder Leads 2014 Tony Award Nominations; Bryan Cranston, LaTanya Richardson, Neil Patrick Harris, Mark Rylance, Audra McDonald, Leigh Silverman among nominees
Signature Theatre to Be Honored with the 2014 Regional Theatre Tony Award
Photos: Late Night with Holy Land’s Jojo Gonzalez
Photos: André Braugher, Ami Brabson, Christine Toy Johnson, Antoinette LaVecchia, Richard Topol, Victor Williams, Nikkole Salter, Elizabeth Van Dyke at Oni Faida Lampley’s Tough Titty at the Paradise Factory
Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang Receives $275,000 Doris Duke Artist Award
Kerry Butler, Edward James Hyland, Matt Walton, Megan Sikora and More in Previews of Off-Broadway Production of Under My Skin at The Little Shubert Theatre
Apr. 22 – May 18: Working Theater Presents The off-Broadway Premiere of James McManus’ CHERRY SMOKE at Urban Stages
André De Shields, Mary Zimmerman, Among 4 Elliot Norton Award Nominations for Huntington’s World Premiere of The Jungle Book, a co-production with The Goodman
Photos: AALDEF Honors Mari Matsuda, Aasif Mandvi, and John Chou in 2014 at 40th Anniversary Celebration
Apr. 17-May 18: Tonya Pinkins and Roscoe Orman Lead the Cast of New Federal Theatre’s Off-Broadway Production of The Fabulous Miss Marie
Apr. 18-20: Pacific Arts Movement and Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company present the San Diego premiere of 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors
Apr. 23-27: Joel de la Fuente Stars in Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths at PlayMaker’s Repertory Company
Jun. 22 – July 27: Richard Thomas and Kristen Connolly Set for Old Globe Debut in OTHELLO
Photos: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz Presents “LADY” Featuring Lia Chang, Monica Garrido, Carolyn Holmes, Noel Simon’ Wippler, Linda Hudson, Adi Meyerson and Kathleen Doran
Photos: Harriet Harris, John Tartaglia, Christine Toy Johnson, Alan Muraoka, James Saito and More celebrate Ann Harada’s Debut at Lincoln Center in the American Songbook Series
Photos: Steve Rosen, David Rossmer, Hannah Elless, Vadim Feichtner, Cathryn Salamone, Ken Triwush and Kate Wetherhead Celebrate The Other Josh Cohen Opening Night
Q & A with Meet Me in St. Louis: A Live Radio Play’s Garth Kravits
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards 
Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Baayork Lee, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Dodie Pettit and More at Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Three Voices” concert series at Stage 72 
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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