Emotional musical about the Vietnamese boat children opens in Dartford

PUBLISHED: 15:00 24 October 2019

The cast of children who mostly come from schools in Bexley and Bromley. Picture: Rice Harvest

The cast of children who mostly come from schools in Bexley and Bromley. Picture: Rice Harvest


An unusual musical arrives in Dartford this week with an ambitious young cast.

It's called Rice Harvest and is revealed to the world opening with performances at the Mick Jagger Centre on Thursday and Friday, October 24 and 25.

It is the climax of a project that began in 1978 in a recording studio in London, when Vietnamese "boat children" were housed in Kensington Barracks.

That emotional experience became part of the life's work of musician and composer Keith Hale, culminating now in this moving musical of love and conflict.

It is based on real events, when as many as 800,000 Vietnamese refugees fled by sea, often in un-seaworthy boats, during the civil struggle that continued after the fall of Saigon and the departure of American forces at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

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The cast includes lead actors Emily Tran and Khai Dao, playing teenage classmates in a small village school attacked by soldiers during choir practice.

They escape by boat, creating a story one of love, innocence and hope in a world of bitterness.

Rescued by the crew of an offshore oil rig, they meet further danger before being picked up by a Royal Navy ship bound for England.

Emily attends Townley Grammar School in Bexleyheath and Khai goes to Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School.

Tickets from the Mick Jagger Centre Box Office on 01322 291100 or

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