Sunday, March 06, 2005
Lea Salonga in Concert, Universal Amphitheatre, March 5th 2005
Lea Salonga in Concert.
Sabrina and I were lucky enough to get out tonight to see the wonderful Lea Salonga in concert at the Universal Amphitheatre. Of course, we brought Christian because, well, he goes where the food goes!
What a phenomenal musical instrument this woman possesses in her throat! It is so pleasant to hear her smooth, seemingly effortless rendition of some of the best songs ever written. The song selection was perfectly suited for the audience, Sabrina remarked on the way home: "It was so wonderful, she sang all of my favorite songs!".
A highlight was her beautiful and controlled performance of Someone to Watch Over Me in a hypnotic arrangement by Lea's brother, Gerard. It was exquisite: Lea, a guitar, and Gershwin. Who could ask for anything more? (sorry about that)
The first act selections were mostly classic standards including a complex and jazzy arrangement of New York State of Mind as well as an extended (and until now unheard) version of Reflection the haunting ballad from Disney's Mulan which Lea leant her voice to.
Lea saved her most stirring Broadway numbers for the second act. She began the "Broadway Section" with On My Own from Les Miserables. I was fortunate enough to see Frances Ruffelle, the Tony Award winning actress who originated the role of Eponine in London and New York. It is very rare that a legendary performance like hers could ever be challenged, but I think that no one can sing this song like Lea. I so regret that I was unable to see her step into the role for a stint in the mid '90s. Luckily, you can see her on Les Miserables, The Dream Cast in Concert DVD. Quite a performance.
After some very funny anecdotes about her struggles with the racy love scenes in Miss Saigon (after all she was only 17 when she got that role) she sang Too Much for One Heart a beautiful and soaring ballad originally written for the show but cut during rehearsals. After hearing it, it's hard to know why it was cut as it has some very powerful lyrics. It further develops Kim's character and her love for Chris, as well as reveals that Kim has discovered she is pregnant with Chris' son thus making their tragic scene at the helicopter pad at the US Embassy even more compelling.
Lea, thank you for such a wonderful concert. It was a special night our for us and the thousands of other people at Universal.
One final note about a personal favorite moment... When telling an anecdote about how children react to her when they realize she is the voice of Jasmine, a real live Disney Princess, Lea told the audience that she had a couple of God Daughters here in Southern California that were "over" the whole idea of her doing Jasmine and Mulan's singing in the Disney Movies. "Oh yeah, that's Auntie Lea singing, ho hum!" Lea said from the stage. Well, Lea, I can tell you that is NOT true... they are very proud that they get to see you in person and they talk about you often when we watch the movies. Baby LaLa even dresses like her Godmother did in the film:
Veronica as Mulan