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Area man in production of 'Miss Saigon'

| Thursday, June 19, 2003

The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera will wrap up the first production of the summer season with "Miss Saigon" on Sunday.

The emotional musical features the talents of Finleyville native Alan H. Green.

Green is making his Pittsburgh stage debut as John in the production of "Miss Saigon."

Green and his family moved from Finleyville to Washington, D.C., before he turned 5 and later settled in Baytown, Texas.

But he retained strong ties to the region through relatives on both sides of his family.

His father, Homer (Sonny) Green, came from Finleyville, and his mother, Arleatha (Johnson) Green, grew up in Library. Until his grandmother's death in the early '90s, the Greens returned regularly for family reunions and other celebrations.

"It's exciting to finally play Pittsburgh. I have a lot of relatives who will finally get to see what I do," says Green during a break from rehearsals at the Benedum Center. "I've done some concert work here, but this is the first show."

Green may be making his Pittsburgh debut, but he's no stranger to "Miss Saigon."

He spent two years performing as John in the musical's production in Germany.

Green's character is pivotal to the musical.

It's John who introduces Chris to Kim, buying his buddy an evening with her from The Engineer, her boss at a sleazy Saigon bar called Dreamland.

When Chris decides to spend the remainder of his time in Saigon with Kim, it's John who arranges the leave he needs. Later, after the war ends and Chris is home, it's John who informs him that Kim is alive and is the mother of his son.

What's a challenge is singing it in English after two years of singing it in German.

English-speaking members of the German production learned their lines and lyrics phonetically. "You literally just know what sounds you are saying," says Green. Their understanding of what they were saying or singing was gained through a literal translation of the script from German into English.

When he started learning lines in English, he explains: "The English translation in my head would trip me up."

Words, phrases and even song titles alter when translated so they can fit requirements for meter, rhyme and colloquial understanding. "Some of the translations were a little different, some were a lot different," says Green.

A line in the script he's using at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera such as "I'm not here as a friend," he formerly knew by its German-back-into-English translation as "I been here as not friend." The title of the song "The Movie in My Head" in the German production went by the German equivalent of "The Storybook Fairy Tale I Can See."

Nevertheless, Green was happy to return to the show.

"The music is beautiful to me. I think it's a beautiful, beautiful score. It's an incredible example of true sacrificial love," says Green.

"Miss Saigon" is playing at the Benedum Center, Pittsburgh, through Sunday. For tickets, call 412-456-6666 or go to www.pghclo.org .)

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