Mu­si­cal leg­end Lea Salonga per­forms a solo con­cert at Dubai Opera

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The Filipino mu­si­cal leg­end per­forms a solo con­cert at Dubai Opera

Be­hind the Os­car-win­ning song A Whole New World from Dis­ney’s 1992 an­i­ma­tion, Aladdin, is a voice with an amaz­ing story. Lea Salonga was just seven years old when she started per­form­ing in the Philip­pines. By the age of 17 she had been whisked to Lon­don’s West End where she beat out hun­dreds of other singers from around the world to star in what would be­come one of the big­gest mu­si­cals of all time, Miss Saigon. She is the very first Asian woman to ever win a Tony for a Broad­way per­for­mance; she’s a pi­o­neer; she’s a mu­si­cal leg­end and, in her spare time, she’s a Dis­ney princess. We caught up with Lea ahead of her solo con­cert at Dubai Opera.

We can’t wait to see you per­form in Dubai. Have you ever vis­ited the UAE be­fore?

Yes, I ac­tu­ally have been to the UAE, to film an ad for a tele­com com­pany. My stay was very short though. How­ever, I did have a lot of mezze, thanks to room ser­vice.

You’ve had a phe­nom­e­nal ca­reer in mu­si­cal theatre. Are there any roles in par­tic­u­lar that you are most proud of?

Of course, I’m proud of hav­ing made my West End and Broad­way de­buts in Miss

Saigon, but I am in­cred­i­bly proud of hav­ing been the first Asian ac­tor to play the role of Epo­nine in Les Mis­er­ables. It’s a show where race isn’t an un­cred­ited char­ac­ter or a ma­jor part of the story, which opens up cast­ing to any­one qual­i­fied to play those roles. I wanted to do well, and the stakes for me were higher here. I felt the need to prove that non-tra­di­tional cast­ing ac­tu­ally works. I spent a few sleep­less nights think­ing about that.

Since cat­a­pult­ing to the lime­light as Kim in Miss

Saigon, you have in­spired many peo­ple to pur­sue their mu­sic pas­sions. What and who in­spires you?

I guess it’s just the thought of what­ever’s com­ing next. The an­tic­i­pa­tion of the next show or con­cert. Also, my fam­ily and hop­ing that with the per­for­mances I do, I make them proud.

You’ve just fin­ished a record­break­ing solo run in New York. How did it go?

It went re­ally great. Fe­in­stein’s/54 Be­low is just one of the best cabaret venues in the city. Great at­mos­phere, won­der­ful food and fan­tas­tic peo­ple that work there, not to men­tion amaz­ing au­di­ences.

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