The worlds of professional sports and musical theater rarely intersect, but a controversial gesture of protest that originated in the NFL made it all the way to Broadway.
After a performance of Broadway’s “Miss Saigon” late in September, the musical’s mostly Asian cast took a knee in solidarity with recent NFL protests against police brutality and racial injustice against the black community. The move was introduced by former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during national anthems last year.
A spokesman for the show gave HuffPost background on the decision to kneel, saying: “The ‘Miss Saigon’ actors taking a knee in unison during the curtain call two weeks ago was a decision the cast made together that evening as a gesture of solidarity with all Americans who believe in equality and the right to peaceful protest.”
A clip of the “Miss Saigon” ensemble ― including Billy Bustamente and Eva Noblezada, who scored a Tony nomination for her performance as ill-fated heroine Kim ― taking a knee in unison at the show’s curtain call was posted to YouTube Sept. 25. It was first reported by Broadway World a day later.
It’s a fitting gesture given the show’s political, if at times dubiously presented, narrative. Written by “Les Misérables” composers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, the musical is loosely based on “Madama Butterfly,” following the romance between an American G.I. (Alistair Brammer) and a Vietnamese prostitute (Noblezada), during the fall of Saigon in 1975.
In recent weeks, the practice of kneeling has become more widespread among football fans and even celebrities after President Donald Trump blasted protesting players as “sons of bitches,” and called on the league to “fire or suspend” them.