Here’s another one of those great Broadway performers I’m dying to see. Like many others, I was introduced to her work singing in the Disney movies Aladdin and Mulan. My first Broadway encounter with Lea Salonga was on the Original Broadway Cast recording of Miss Saigon, which I didn’t buy until after I saw on the show in 2000. On that CD, she’s so passionate and really gives a powerful performance. I can see why she won the Tony. When watching the video documentary The Making of Miss Saigon, it’s hard to grasp that she gave that performance at such an incredibly young age. I wish she would be given more opportunities for a greater variety of roles. If she could do that then, what could she do now?
There are many performers out there with stronger belts or even more versatility in their voices, but what makes Lea Salonga’s voice such a standout is its beauty, depth, and innocence. It has a very beautiful quality to it, which is one of the reasons why she was so perfect for “A Whole New World,” but then when you hear her work on stage, that beauty is coupled with emotional depth.
I am so incredibly thankful that Salonga’s Eponine was recorded in the 10th Anniversary concert of Les Miserables. I hadn’t even seen the show when I first saw that concert, and her deathbed scene affected me in a way no other Eponine’s has, despite that fact that I’ve seen several extraordinary Eponines live. I would also call her “On My Own” definitive.
I am a big fan of the Flower Drum Song CD, which I’ve listened to hundreds of times. There are many gems on that CD, but I think one of the shiniest is Salonga’s rendition of “Love, Look Away,” which is so excruciatingly painful to listen to when you really experience it as a character’s song.
I was ecstatic to hear that Salonga was now Fantine in Les Miserables. It’s a performance I won’t get to see, but I know she’s amazing in it.
the Broadway Mouth
August 7, 2007