Lea Salonga is a singer and actress who is best known for her Tony Award winning role in Miss Saigon. She is recognized for having won, in addition to the Tony, the Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Awards, in the field of musical theatre. She was also the first Asian to play Eponine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway and returned to the beloved show as Fantine in the 2006 revival.
Lea made her debut in the world of Cabaret in 2010, performing a sold out, three week engagement at the Café Carlyle in New York City. She returns in June 2011 to delight audiences in another multi-week engagement and will release a live version of her 2010 concert “Lea Salonga: The Journey So Far” on August 9th. The CD is currently available for pre-sale on her website and will be available for purchase the site, iTunes and select music vendors.
Lea will then appear in the new musical, Allegiance, when it is workshopped in New York City this summer. Developed by legendary actor George Takei, Allegiance tells the story of a Japanese-American family during World War II and the internment years.
Many fans of all ages recognize Lea as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin and Fa Mulan for Mulan and Mulan II. In honor of her portrayal of the beloved princesses, Disneyland will bestow the honor of “Disney Legend” to Lea in August of 2011.
Recently she participated in the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables to sold out crowds at UK’s O2 arena. She also dazzled as the hauntingly tragic Grizabella in a limited run of CATS in her hometown of Manila. Lea also teamed up with legendary Grammy winner, Patti Austin, to perform the concert series, ‘Heart and Soul,’ around the United States.
Honored with an appointment as a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Goodwill Ambassador in October of 2010, Lea vowed to act as advocate for the Youth and United Nations Global Alliance initiative led by the FAO.
She delighted fans in Kuala Lumpur with her debut appearance there, ‘An Evening with Lea Salonga.’ She has also held sold-out concerts in both Hong Kong and Bangkok and performed a special Valentine’s Day 2011 concert with the Bangkok Symphony.
In 2005, Lea played her first US concert tour in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlantic City, and Chicago. Concert dates in Washington, D.C. and Norfolk, Virginia followed. Later that year, she performed with a 26-piece ensemble to a sold-out crowd at the Isaac Stern Hall in Carnegie Hall, benefitting the Diverse City Theater Company.
In her 30-year career, Lea has performed for five Philippine presidents (from Ferdinand Marcos to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), three American Presidents (George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush), and for Diana, Princess of Wales and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
She began her career as a child star in the Philippines, making her professional debut in 1978 at the age of seven in the musical The King and I. She went on to star in productions of Annie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Fiddler on the Roof, The Rose Tattoo, The Sound of Music, The Goodbye Girl, Paper Moon, and The Fantasticks.
Lea began her recording career at the age of ten with her first album, “Small Voice,” which received a gold certification. Her albums that followed include “Lea”, released in 1988 , “Inspired” released in 2007, and numerous live concert and Broadway albums.
In addition to performing in musical theater and recordings, she hosted her own musical television show, “Love, Lea,” and also opened for international acts such as Menudo and Stevie Wonder.
Lea’s big breakthrough came when she was selected to play Kim in the megahit musical Miss Saigon in 1989. For her performance as Kim, she won the Olivier for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical for the 1989/1990 season. Miss Saigon moved from its original London home, to Broadway in April 1991. Lea subsequently garnered the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and the Theatre World Awards for the same role. In 1999, she was invited back to London to close the musical, and in 2001, at the age of 29 and after doing the Manila run of the musical, she returned to Broadway to close the Broadway production.
In 2002, she returned to Broadway to play the role of a Chinese immigrant in a reinterpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song opposite Jose Llana. This was after the reinvented musical had a very successful run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2001, with Lea playing the lead role and the show garnering multiple wins and nominations, including Lead Actress in a Musical for her, from the LA Stage Alliance’s Ovation Awards. The Salonga-led Broadway revival cast album was also a top contender at the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Musical Show Album.