I was at Signature Theatre's production on Sunday night, so I've actually seen the new song.
It is terrible.
I understand what they are trying to do. There are lyrics in there to better explain Chris and Ellen's relationship - they definitely met postwar, it moved sorta fast, she was attracted to the sorrow in him. It's the execution that suffers. A lot.
Musically, it does not fit. It's like a song from an entirely different show, by entirely different composers, was stuck in where Her or Me/Now that I've Seen Her goes. There's no transition, either before or after, and it musically isn't very good, either. So it's out of place, and mediocre, and just generally poorly done.
What the show needs is another crack at Now That I've Seen Her/Her or Me because the music fits and the misplaced callback to the original song is still there (there's NOTHING left for "let me see, is it her now or me?" to refer back to, which is really unfortunate because that should be a big emotional point - at least with Now That I've Seen Her, there was the musical reference, but now that's gone).
But, if there's any luck in the world, I've seen the new Kim. Her name is Diana Huey, and she is perfect, and Cammack's people were there on Sunday (original closing night) to check her out. She is ballsy, she has a really expressive face, and she sings the hell out of the role. She had the audience from Movie in My Mind. If she doesn't get it in London, there is no justice in the world.
To compare to Lea, as best I can since I never saw Lea in this role, Diana looks far less innocent. She's not all that naive, comparatively - she knows she signed up for sex work, she's doing her best, but she hadn't expected the GIs to be such beasts. When the Engineer tells her "lower your eyelids and look sweet", it's a real order - it is absolutely not in her nature, so the Thuy thing isn't really any sort of surprise.
She is amazing, the production on the whole is amazing and would be worth appropriating large aspects, I'm so glad to have gotten to see Thom Sesma as the Engineer, and if it weren't closing when it is, I'd spend money I don't really have to see it again. And again. (The Ellen is miscast, but we knew that from the beginning - she's a local actress I see a lot of, and like, but vocally, she's a Christine. And they didn't change the octave or key for her. So that wasn't really helping Maybe, but it isn't a good song in the first place.)
I really do love this show, and I think it actually works as response to the orientalism, but this may be because I saw it the night after I saw Anna Nicole the Opera and the parallels were right there in my face. It's about how a young woman who only has crap choices deals with the choices she makes, loves her son above everything, and at least Kim's death is her assertion of agency: screw the crap choices you're trying to force on me, let me force the only reasonable outcome on you condescending white people. Anna Nicole ended up a victim and died sadly and pathetically and tragically; at least Kim managed to choose her ending. Eric and Diana get that and that is why her performance (and the whole production) is so awesome.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard