In his U.S. jail cell, Minh Beo can feel reassured that his problems with the law has not made artists in his namesake theater back home turn their back on him.
Instead, artists and comedians at the Ho Chi Minh City-based Sao Minh Beo are still working to keep the lights on at the theater, although it is not clear if the facility’s owner will ever return following his arrest on March 25.
Minh Beo is being held in an Orange County jail, pending an April 15 court appearance on charges of sexually abusing a minor.
Contrary to concerns that Sao Minh Beo, the theater the Vietnamese entertainer founded in 2013, would be affected by his arrest, no adjustments have been made to the shows scheduled there.
A children’s play, ‘Mermaid,’ even had its debut show on Sunday morning as planned, with the playhouse in District 11 filled with young audiences.
Kids enjoy the show.
“I am trying my hardest to support my family and to keep Sao Minh Beo going,” said Hong Phuoc Kien, Minh Beo’s older brother.
Kien acts as manager for both the entertainer himself and the Sao Minh Beo theater.
“Since the incident, no artist has parted company with [Sao Minh Beo], which helps ease my sadness,” he said.
Minh Beo also has his own film company, the fate of which may not be as positive as the theater, Kien admitted.
“We founded the company last year and had some scripts ready to shoot upon Minh Beo's return from his U.S. trip, but perhaps we have to reconsider that plan now,” he said.
Kien said he will try to travel to see his younger brother in jail to brighten him up.
“I have been to the U.S. twice before but I need to renew my expired visa now,” he said.
In joining hands to keep Sao Minh Beo open, many artists have also offered to cut their own wages to support the arrested theater owner.
“We will not comment on the personal issue of Minh Beo, but we have decided to stay to help Kien keep this theater going,” Phuc Beo, a play actor, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper after his ‘Mermaid’ show on Sunday.
“Kien still pays our wages as usual but we have volunteered to cut them ourselves in order to help him.”
Phuc Beo said the artists will “continue performing at Sao Minh Beo until Kien himself can no longer afford it.”
Minh Beo once said that his theater is a “charitable theater,” as it offers affordable ticket prices for low-income earners, and free admission for children under ten.
Minh Beo, whose real name is Hong Quang Minh, was charged with three felony counts, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA).
They include one felony count of oral copulation of a minor, one felony count of attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child under the age of 14, and one felony count of meeting with a minor via the intent to engage in lewd conduct, according to an OCDA press release.
The 38-year-old faces up to five years and eight months in jail if convicted.