Lea Salonga

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Theatrical royalty and original Miss Saigon Lea Salonga brought her sensational one-woman show to Manchester’s Opera House over the weekend as part of her current UK tour. Rescheduled from February due to an unfortunate skiing accident Salonga quickly proved to an excited Manchester audience that she was more than worth the wait.

Opening with the Nina Simone classic Feeling Good Salonga sets the tone for the evening, slick, sharp and effortlessly brilliant. Accompanied by a six-piece band which includes Musical Director Larry Yurman whom worked with Salonga back in her Les Misérables Broadway days the talented musicians accompany her beautifully. Each piece is perfectly paced while the incredible acoustics within the Opera House make it feel as though she is singing directly to each and every person there. The impressive lighting design adds to the visual appeal of the show while Salonga’s vocals really do speak for themselves.

Incredibly warm and charismatic her frequent exchanges with the audience between numbers further add to the charm of her incredible performance, already enraptured with her judging from the enthusiastic applause even before the first note was sung Salonga further seals the deal when she announces “Manchester, you are giving me life right now”.

The varied set list caters wonderfully for all tastes; there’s lashings of musical theatre numbers including Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Company and Hamilton as well as a brilliant selection of contemporary songs ranging from Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car to perhaps rather surprisingly One Direction’s Story Of My Life which is delivered with warm emotion.

Of course no performance would be complete without Salonga treating audiences to pieces from the Disney productions she famously voiced. Her performance of Reflection from Disney’s Mulan allows for a significant introductory speech about the importance of representation and visibility and how honoured she feels to represent not just Asian women on stage but an ‘badass Asian warrior’.

From Reflection Salonga moves poignantly into Train’s Drops of Jupiter which she dedicates to all those who have been affected by cancer after revealing that the Grammy award-winning song was written by lead singer Pat Monahan after the loss of his mother.

Act 1 comes to a close with an absolute fan favourite which Salonga describes as ‘the gift that keeps on giving’; a song she has sung many hundreds of times but one which walloped her emotionally the first time she sang it after the birth of her now 13 year old daughter. I’d Give My Life For You sounds as fresh and as devastating today as it did 30 years on from those first days of Miss Saigon rehearsals.

Act 2 opens with a lively delivery of Another Hundred People from Stephen Sondheim’s Company swiftly followed by a spectacular rendition of Let It Go from Disney’s Frozen which Salonga wittily describes as a song ‘you simply can’t escape from’ while inviting the eager audience to join in with the chorus to which they happily oblige.

The addition of a stripped back acoustic version of A-ha’s Take On Me is a real highlight of the show, showcasing not only Salonga’s incredible range and control but also the sheer talent of guitarist Chris Allard. Next comes a haunting rendition of Burn from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit Hamilton a work she describes as ‘absolute genius’ and a show she has seen three times.

Salonga’s first stint as a Disney Princess was voicing Aladdin’s Princess Jasmine which resulted in one of the most successful duets in cinematic history, A Whole New World. Salonga takes this opportunity to ask for a volunteer to join her on stage in delivering the iconic song. Audience member Mark Cunningham, a dedicated fan since he first saw Salonga in Miss Saigon back in 1989 when he was just 14 is the lucky person chosen and delivers an impressive rendition of the much loved piece, complementing Salonga wonderfully. The pair thrill the audience with the duet receiving one of the warmest responses of the evening; an unforgettable opportunity for Mark as well as a heart-warming moment for the watching audience.

Salonga brings the show to a close with a medley of Les Misérables numbers I Dreamed A Dream and On My Own. The first Asian actress to play the roles of Eponine and Fantine on Broadway Salonga leaves the audience speechless with her goose bump inducing, note perfect delivery.

Salonga thankfully sticks with the tradition of delivering an encore and reappears to thunderous applause as she bursts into a celebratory performance of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman followed by her final song for the night, Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All.

Salonga thrills effortlessly from start to finish, her voice smooth as honey is as powerful as it is perfect. Thirty years of entertaining audiences have cemented her as without doubt one of the most extraordinary talents in the world today. Her warmth and talent combined with a varied and accessible set list ensures her appeal endures while she no doubt gains new fans along the way.

With limited dates left on this current tour we suggest you summon your inner badass and get booking tickets ASAP!

Further information and tour dates for Lea Salonga can be found here.

 

 

Miss Saigon returns to Manchester!

Miss S 5Hot on the heels of yesterday’s exciting Matilda announcement Cameron Mackintosh has today announced that Miss Saigon will land at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on 21th March 2018 and will stay in the city for a total of 7 weeks until 12th May 2018, with tickets going on sale on 18 May. www.miss-saigon.com

Mackintosh also announced the principal casting of his acclaimed new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical, Red Concepcion will play ‘The Engineer’, Sooha Kim ‘Kim’, Ashley Gilmour ‘Chris’, Zoë Doano ‘Ellen’ and Gerald Santos ‘Thuy’. At certain performances ‘Kim’ will be played by Joreen Bautista.

Here at Opening Night we’re thrilled to hear that Barnaby Hughes most recently seen in Hope Mill Theatre’s stunning production Yank! will be amongst the cast, huge congratulations Barnaby!

Miss S 6

Miss Saigon tells the heart-wrenching story of the last days of the Vietnam War, 17-year-old Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 years Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son.

Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history.  The show has since been performed in 28 countries, over 300 cities in 15 different languages, has won over 40 awards including 2 Olivier Awards, 3 Tony Awards, and 4 Drama Desk Awards and been seen by over 35 million people worldwide.

Tickets will be in huge demand for this epic production, we are thrilled to say in Manchester the heat is most definitely on!

MISS SAIGON UK TOUR 2017/2018

www.miss-saigon.com

 

MONDAY 3 JULY – SATURDAY 22 JULY 2017

CURVE, LEICESTER

www.curveonline.co.uk – 0116 242 3595

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 26 JULY – SATURDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2017

BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME

www.birminghamhippodrome.com – 0844 338 5000

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 4 OCTOBER – SATURDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2017

BORD GAIS ENERGY THEATRE, DUBLIN

www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie – +353 (1) 677 7999

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2017 – SATURDAY 6 JANUARY 2018

WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE, CARDIFF

www.wmc.org.uk – 029 2063 6464

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 17 JANUARY – SATURDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2018

FESTIVAL THEATRE EDINBURGH

www.edtheatres.com – 01315296000

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 21 FEBRUARY – SATURDAY 17 MARCH 2018

MAYFLOWER THEATRE, SOUTHAMPTON

www.mayflower.org.uk – 02380 711811

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 21 MARCH – SATURDAY 12 MAY 2018

MANCHESTER PALACE THEATRE

www.atgtickets.com/venues/palace-theatre-manchester/0844 871 3019

ON SALE 18 MAY 2017

 

WEDNESDAY 16 MAY – SATURDAY 23 JUNE 2018

THE BRISTOL HIPPODROME

www.atgtickets.com/venues/bristol-hippodrome/0844 871 3012

ON SALE 18 MAY 2017

 

WEDNESDAY 4 JULY – SATURDAY 4 AUGUST 2018

THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH

http://www.theatreroyal.com/01752 267222 ON SALE 18 MAY 2017

 

WEDNESDAY 15 AUGUST – SATURDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2018

NORWICH THEATRE ROYAL

www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk  01603 63 00 00

ON SALE 21 AUGUST