Lea Salonga Plays Grizabella!
Now here’s an absolutely non-political story that’s both celebratory and certain to be a cultural treat: Lea Salonga essaying the role of Grizabella right here in Manila.
And the show is coming in July next year, with the elections over and done with.
Who doesn’t know just how Lea wowed the world when she played Kim in Miss Saigon?
Refreshing our memory, Lea, now happily married, won the Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and Theatre World Awards, the first to win various international awards for a single role.
Here’s Lea as she sings two of Miss Saigon’s well loved song:
She was also the first Asian to play Eponine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway.
As the Wikipedia entry on Lea recounts:
Unable to find a strong enough Asian actress/singer in the United Kingdom, the producers scoured many countries looking for the lead role of this major British production.
For her audition, the 17-year-old Salonga chose to sing Boublil and Schönberg’s “On My Own” from Les Misérables and was later asked to sing “Sun and Moon” and “Over the Rainbow” to test the compatibility of her voice quality with the songs in the musical.
The members of the panel were impressed with Salonga’s rendition of the songs, noting that from Salonga’s very first note, they already knew they had a potential Kim.
(This writer was fortunate to have watched Lea As Kim on roadway, a once in a lifetime experience it was. )
And now this report:
LEA Salonga will play the pivotal role of Grizabella in Lunchbox Theatrical Productions’ staging of “Cats” in Manila.
The UK group (with subsidiaries in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore) is working with the Philipines’ Concertus Inc. to bring the musical, one of the longest-running of all time, here next year.
Lea joins an international cast. As Grizabella, who is shunned by her tribe, Lea gets to sing the biggest hit to come out of the show, “Memory.” In fact, she performs the song twice, in Parts One and Two.
Trevor Nunn, original director (The New London Theater, May 1981), says Grizabella is “an intensely recognizable character, with powerful human resonances.” The first Grizabella would have been Dame Judi Dench, but she severed her Achilles tendon during rehearsals and had to be replaced five days before the first preview.
“Cats,” named Best Musical in the Olivier and Tony Awards, has been presented in over 300 cities worldwide. In Manila, it will run for four weeks starting in July, with a gala night and weekend matinees, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Ain’t this just SUPER!!!
Here’s a clip of the Broadway staging of Grizabella: