Paul’s Picks: Something intimate, something epic to start your new year

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Emily Bautista plays Kim in the national touring show of "Miss Saigon." Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Paul’s Picks of the Week: something intimate, something epic to start your new year. The Lysander Piano Trio offers a free program at Clemson’s Brooks Center on Jan. 17. Meanwhile, the monumental “Miss Saigon” marches into the Peace Center, Jan. 15-20.

Why you should go — Lysander Piano Trio: Three young musicians (violinist Itamor Zorman, cellist Michael Katz and pianist Liza Stepanova) created the Lysander Piano Trio about 10 years ago at the famed Juilliard School. In a short time, the ensemble has won major awards and played at prestigious venues across the nation.

The Lysander Piano Trio performs a free concert at Clemson’s Brooks Center, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 17. Pictured are, left to right, violinist Itamor Zorman, pianist Liza Stepanova and cellist Michael Katz. Photo by Jiyang Chen.

The trio performs a free recital at Clemson’s Brooks Center, 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17. The concert is part of the Utsey Series of free chamber music concerts.

The program includes suave French works by Lili Boulanger and Claude Debussy, and the spirited First Piano Trio by Brahms. Also featured are four pieces by Venezuelan-American composer Reinaldo Moya that are inspired by novels.

Why you should go — “Miss Saigon”: The Tony Award-winning “Miss Saigon,” set during the Vietnam conflict, is a thrilling and searing musical with soaring melodies and muscular ensemble numbers.

“Miss Saigon” arrives at the Peace Center on Jan. 15 for eight performances through Jan. 20. The Company of the North American Tour of “Miss Saigon” performs “Morning of the Dragon.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

There’s also a helicopter that appears to land onstage. The show, by the creators of “Les Miserables,” is nothing if not grandiose.

But the musical also has its intimate moments as it follows the story (based on Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly”) of a 17-year-old Vietnamese girl, Kim, who falls in love with an American G.I., Chris.

The production coming to the Peace Center is based on the 25th anniversary revival of “Miss Saigon” that ran both in London and on Broadway. Theater-goers should note: The show includes some strong language.

Fun fact about the Lysander Piano Trio: The Trio is named after the romantic hero Lysander who serenades Hermia at her window “by moonlight” in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In Greek, Lysander means “liberator.”

Fun facts about “Miss Saigon”: The original Broadway production of “Miss Saigon” opened on April 11, 1991 with what was the largest advance sale in Broadway history ($37 million). The top ticket price of $100 was a Broadway record at the time. (It has long been surpassed.) The show went on to play for nearly 10 years and 4,063 performances. “Miss Saigon
has been performed in 28 countries, more than 300 cities and in 15 different languages.
“Miss Saigon” has won more than 40 awards including three  Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and four Drama Desk Awards and been seen by more than 35 million people worldwide.

Paul Hyde, a veteran Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

If you go

What: The Lysander Piano Trio

When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 17

Where: Brooks Center at Clemson University

Tickets: Admission-free

Info: 864-656-7787 or www.Clemson.edu/Brooks

If you go

What: “Miss Saigon”

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Peace Center

Tickets: $40 to $115

Info: 864-467-3000 or www.peacecenter.org

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