A gen­uine Dis­ney princess comes to town

HK Magazine - - PAGE 3 -

Since mak­ing her de­but as Kim in Miss Saigon on Broad­way in 1989, Lea Salonga quickly rose to fame as the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award and as a le­git­i­mate Dis­ney princess, tak­ing the sing­ing roles of both Mu­lan and Jas­mine in their re­spec­tive an­i­mated fea­tures. Still tour­ing and per­form­ing, she comes to Hong Kong next month for a show­case of Dis­ney clas­sics and Broad­way hits with the HK Phil­har­monic. She chats with Jes­sica Wei about her charmed ca­reer as a life­long per­former.

HK Mag­a­zine: What can you tell us about your up­com­ing show in Hong Kong?

Lea Salonga: The shows that I tend to do in Hong Kong are a mix of mu­si­cal the­ater and Dis­ney, be­cause I’ve been a cou­ple of Dis­ney princesses in my life­time. It’ll be a reper­toire of my fa­vorite Dis­ney songs, and some con­tem­po­rary mu­si­cal the­ater, like pieces from Les Mis and Hamil­ton.

HK: Do you have a fa­vorite role so far?

LS: What­ever I hap­pen to be do­ing at that time be­comes a fa­vorite, and that char­ac­ter be­comes re­ally close to my heart. I love all of them—there’s al­ways some­thing in each of them that I’m able to re­late to, or find cathar­sis in.

HK: How do you keep find­ing chal­leng­ing projects to do?

LS: I tend to fol­low my gut. If it feels good in my gut, then it’s some­thing I’m able to whole­heart­edly dive into.

Af­ter Hong Kong, I’ll be do­ing [Lisa Kron and Jea­nine Te­sori’s mu­si­cal] “Fun Home”—as soon as I saw the show, I was to­tally floored. It doesn’t have a huge cast, or a big bom­bas­tic orches­tra. But a lot of the mo­ments are very quiet and pow­er­ful.

HK: You were re­cently in “Al­le­giance” with Ge­orge Takei on Broad­way. How was that ex­pe­ri­ence?

LS: Fun! It was a pre­dom­i­nantly Asian cast with an AsianAmer­i­can cre­ative team. It was writ­ten by Asian-Amer­i­cans, star­ring Asian-Amer­i­cans, about the Ja­panese-Amer­i­can in­tern­ment in World War II. So you have all these Asian peo­ple with Cal­i­for­nian ac­cents sing­ing and danc­ing. We knew it was go­ing to be ground­break­ing for the Asian-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity. It felt ex­tremely ful­fill­ing to be a part of it.

HK: Do you think there are more op­por­tu­ni­ties for di­verse per­form­ers in the­ater now, com­pared to when you started?

LS: I think so. I think it’s a mat­ter of keep­ing at it, and be­ing per­sis­tent. Broad­way is in­cred­i­bly di­verse, and seems much more able and ready to take chances on stuff like this. I’m hop­ing more such sto­ries are de­vel­oped and told. The Amer­i­can ex­per­i­ment is still on­go­ing, and a lot of the stuff that would not be pos­si­ble in other coun­tries is hap­pen­ing in Amer­ica.

HK: How do you bal­ance an in­ter­na­tional ca­reer with rais­ing a fam­ily in Manila?

LS: For me, I go where the work is. So if there’s work in

New York, and if it’s an op­por­tu­nity that looks like it’s go­ing to be long-last­ing, then we up and move. It has its share of sac­ri­fices and hard­ship, but it is what it is. But when I do go to New York, it doesn’t feel like I’m vis­it­ing, it feels like

I’m go­ing home. HK: Be­ing able to travel around Asia must be pretty ex­cit­ing as well.

LS: I love get­ting to travel and per­form in so many dif­fer­ent places. It hasn’t got­ten old. I’ve made so many vis­its to Hong Kong to sing with the same orches­tra—this will be my third run of con­certs with the Hong Kong Phil. The orches­tra is in­cred­i­ble and my hus­band and I al­ways turn it into an eat­ing trip.

To see Lea Salonga live, book your tick­ets early for her show with the HK Phil­har­monic on Sep 30 and Oct 1, 8pm. Con­cert Hall, Hong Kong Cul­tural Cen­tre, 10 Sal­is­bury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui. $280-780 from urbtix.hk

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