The Philippines’ pride and glory on worldwide performing stage, Ms. Lea Salonga, made every Filipino all over the world stand a little taller, yet again, when she recently staged a highly successful, solo concert at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London.
The musical theater royalty and two-time Disney Princess, accompanied by her equally gifted brother as her conductor, orchestrator and musical director, managed to fill the concert venue to the rafters on the seventh leg of her nine-city “Dream Again” tour last June 28. It was a dream come true for the world-class Filipino artist who have always dreamt of performing in this iconic theater. Her last performance here was during the “Les Misérables” anniversary concert in 1995.
She posted on her Facebook page a day after the show, “Still in disbelief that we did a concert at the Royal Albert Hall last night! Bravo to all the incredible musicians up on stage with us.”
Lea couldn’t help but pay tribute to the excellence of her musical director that night. Gerard is the resident conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and a former assistant conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
The big sister went on to say, “For some of the show, I had to just sit for a second or two and be an immensely proud big sister just watching Gerard wave his baton against the backdrop of a packed crowd at this historic venue.”
A little wistfully, she added, “Our mom (the doting and loveable Mommy Ligaya Salonga) said to create happy memories while on this tour together; we most certainly are.”
The show was so successful that senior promoter Sam Griffiths of the company Cuffe and Taylor (a part of Live Nation and producer of the series) awarded Lea and her brother Gerard a plaque of recognition right after the concert.
Not only was “Dream Again” UK leg very well attended that night, it was also much-acclaimed having been described by UK critics as “an experience like no other.”
A review that appeared on one UK website describes this experience. “It’s not just the vocals that make a Lea Salonga concert an unforgettable experience – it’s Lea herself. Her instantly loveable personality, humour elevates her concerts to something that you very rarely get. Lea’s voice has a way of penetrating your heart, making you feel emotions not many singers can do. At the very top of her game, this night was as special for me and the rest of the audience as it was for her. Undoubtedly, the best concert I’ve attended this year. Let’s hope it’s not too long before we can witness Lea’s genius in the UK again.”
The concert repertoire was a carefully-balanced mixture of the finest songs in musical theater, as well pop and eclectic music ranging from the classics to the contemporary.
Among the songs that found their way into her glorious setlist were: “It’s Quiet Uptown” from “Hamilton,” Stephen Sondheim song “Move On,” “For Forever” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables,” “Waiting for Life” from “Once on This Island,” “Somewhere” from West Side Story,” “Maybe This Time” from “Cabaret,” Barbra Streisand’s popular song “Happy Days are Here Again,” “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana,” her now famous boyband medley from the likes of Backstreet Boys, Westlife, One Direction and Hanson — “Back For Good,” “Mmmbop,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “I Want It That Way,” “My Love,” and “What Makes You Beautiful,” plus the much-awaited medley of her hits from “Miss Saigon,” “Aladdin,” “Mulan,” “Les Miserables” – “I’d Give My Life for You,” “A Whole New World,” “Reflection,” “On My Own,” “I Dreamed A Dream,” and “The Human Heart.”
The “Lea Salonga: Dream Again” series kicked off last June 18 at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester. The rest of the performances were held on June 19 at the Mayflower Theatre in Southhampton, June 21 at St. David’s Hall in Cardiff, June 23 at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, June 24 at the Bridgewater hall in Manchester, June 26 at the Brighton Dome in Brighton.
The Royal Albert Hall concert leg last June 28 was followed the following day, June 29, by a performance at The Marlowe Theater in Canterbury and landed on July 1 with a big bang at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, where the series ended.
Lea Salonga: Dream Again follows Lea’s single release of the same name last year. The international collaboration brought together composers, musicians and a production team across three continents and five time zones, to help organizations aiding in COVID-19 relief.
The Dream Again tour also celebrates the 30th anniversary of Lea recording the iconic Disney love song “A Whole New World” as Princess Jasmine in Aladdin in 1992. Younger fans will also recognise Lea’s pitch perfect tones as the singing voice of Fa Mulan in Mulan and Mulan II.
The Olivier and Tony Award-winning star said of her concert tour in the UK, “I owe the UK audiences and fans so much of my success, after they took me to their hearts as Kim in Miss Saigon– which I will always be so grateful for.”