Musical legend Lea Salonga performs a solo concert at Dubai Opera
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.