Broadway classics are taking the stage all over Texas, and Houston will soon see the newest production of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s Miss Saigon at The Hobby Center. Ahead of their arrival, I got a chance to speak with J. Daughtry, who plays John in the U.S. National Tour of Miss Saigon.
When he’s not taking the stage, this banker-turned-teacher-turned-actor can be seen displaying his talents and his travels on his instagram. Originally from Bartow, Florida, Daughtry’s talents have allowed him the opportunity to sing backup for multiple R&B and gospel artists including Patti LaBelle and Kirk Franklin as well as appearing on popular television shows like Law & Order SVU and Orange is the New Black. On the stage, Daughtry has been in Beautiful – the Carole King Musical and The Color Purple, as well as Cirque Dreams Holidaze and Motown: The Musical.
Diversity is somewhat the norm for Daughty, and Miss Saigon is no different. With a cast of nearly 50, this stunning spectacle has provided opportunities for actors from a range of backgrounds.
“This cast is diverse indeed and it has been a dream, working with each and every cast and crew member,” Daughtry said. “Over the course of my career I have worked mostly with diverse companies. Even the shows that have an all-black cast are diverse in its crew.”
Miss Saigon tells the story of a young Vietnamese that’s orphaned by war and forced to work in a bar. There, she falls in love with an American G.I., but they’re torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For three years, she goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to him.
In this production of Miss Saigon, Daughtry plays John, who runs an organization that reconnects children who were estranged from their fathers that were in the military during the Vietnam War. While doing his job, John discovers that his friend Chris has fathered a child with the main character, Kim.
“My job is to reunite them and to bring them back into communication with each other, and try to get them to take Kim and the baby back to America, which is what Kim wants to happen,” Daughtry explained in an interview with Broadway World. “Unfortunately, it does not happen that way.”
Although the legacy of Miss Saigon is riddled with contention and controversy, Daughtry and the cast give their roles the respect they deserve and take pride in bringing this production to life on a more equal stage. In the original productions, Miss Saigon received backlash for casting white actors to play Eurasian and Asian characters with eye prostheses and bronzing cream, similar to minstrel shows of the past.
“Being a part of this classic show comes with an obligation to deliver your best performance every night. Our cast is extremely aware of the legacy we are carrying across the country,” he explained. “My biggest obstacle has been making sure to deliver our story with honesty every night. I’ve overcome it by reminding myself that, as an artist, it’s my duty to reflect the times both good and bad. It allows our audiences to see themselves and to choose to change.”
Miss Saigon will open in Houston on May 7 and runs through May 12 at The Hobby Center. Tickets Start at $35 and are available by phone (800) 982-2787 and online at TheHobbyCenter.org and at BroadwayAtTheHobbyCenter.com.
Nick Bailey is a forward thinking journalist with a well-rounded skill set unafraid to take on topics head on. He now resides in Austin, TX and continues to create content on a daily basis.