Tuesday, July 23

Lea Salonga – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

A rare opportunity to see one of the greatest singers of our time, a true icon of musical theatre and a Disney princess twice over. The singing voice of warrior, Mulan and Princess Jasmine in Alladin, but perhaps best known for her role as Kim in Miss Saigon for over fifteen years, Salonga has a long list of stage and screen credits, spanning over 35 years.

When Salonga took on the role of Kim in Miss Saigon in 1989, aged just 18, she went on to become the first Asian performer to win a Tony and one of the youngest to win an Olivier. In the 1990’s she played Eponine alongside, Michael Ball’s Marius in Les Misérables. The rest, as they say, is history.

Most recently starring in Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends, in London’s West End, she has taken time out to tour the UK, for eight performances only, with a collection of her favourite songs.

In this, her only Scottish gig, an enthusiastic packed house at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre gives her a rousing ovation as she takes to the stage. Salonga’s performance throughout the evening is never less than totally assured, and her rev counter barely nudges the middle digits, such is her singing prowess. Like an Olympic gymnast she scales the high bars of Sondheim’s repertoire with ease, I particularly loved, Being Alive from Company and Something’s Coming from West Side Story.

Salonga’s comic acting credentials are also on show in the excellent, By The Sea from Sweeney Todd. The undoubted highlight of the evening however has to be her spine tingling reprise of her most famous role of Kim in Miss Saigon, singing The movie In My Mind, followed immediately by Last Night of the World, which brought the first standing ovation of the evening, but certainly not the last. These songs also provided opportunities for backing singers Sarah Galbraith and Adam Filipe to accompany Lea. They both provided excellent foils, with striking performances of their own throughout the evening.

A large part of Salonga’s appeal is in her ability to relate to and relax her audience, which she did with an easy confidence throughout, with short stories and quips between songs. I would have loved to hear more of Lea’s back story, of her life growing up in The Philippines and how she got into music, and where that amazing voice came from! But I have no real complaints. This is an evening of ethereal musical magic, under the still, controlled brilliance of a superstar. What’s not to love?

Reviewer: Greg Holstead

Reviewed: 30th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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