Lea Salonga – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – May 18, 2019


Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Bliss is the word that best describes Lea Salonga’s stunning Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts concert.  Salonga looked dazzling as she slowly walked on stage for the first time since a January skiing accident caused a lengthy recovery with an assortment of devices.  But now all those encumbrances are behind her as a compression stocking hidden by two classy outfits let her still recovering broken leg not stop Salonga.

Let’s put the recovering leg aside and talk about the magnificent voice she displayed in a generous two-hour plus concert that included several of her Broadway and film classic tunes as well as favorite pop hits and songs suggested by her mother, her conductor brother, and her longtime manager.  At 48, something Salonga admitted as the concert started, her artful singing with both a wonderfully full-bodied belt to brassy swinging medleys and a softly sensuous, lyrically beautiful side for tunes that demonstrated the diversity her voice allows.

I’m one of lucky ones to have seen her in her remarkable “Miss Saigon” Broadway debut back in 1991 plus I saw her 2002 California performance in the updated version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s then old fashioned and almost laughable “Flower Drum Song.”  Due to her superb training and skill she sounds just like she did when she appeared in those two productions.  And we’ve all heard in her movie singing in “Mulan” and “Aladdin.”

Salonga paced herself perfectly as she chatted charmingly between numbers about her career development including both triumphs and challenges that she’s tackled gracefully.  In the second act she invited a fan to come on stage and sing “Aladdin’s” “A Whole New World” with her.  The person selected was a fawning Salonga lover but he sang perfectly and their blended voices sounded rich.

Her stirring final number before the inevitable encore was a moving “I Dreamed a Dream” from her acclaimed “Les Miserables” performance.  The sustained final note was something to treasure.

Salonga was backed by a fabulous quartet conducted by her longtime musical director Larry Herman.  Salonga graciously acknowledged the ensemble’s contributions throughout the performance.

What a concert Lea Salonga gave the capacity crowd who welcomed her warmly at the beginning and were with her throughout the wonderful evening of diverse and superbly sung tunes.  It was a performance to treasure and never forget.

Grade: A