Lea Salonga returns to London stage after 27 years in 'Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends'

Lea Salonga (Facebook)

Tony-winning stars Lea Salonga and Bernadette Peters are headed to London's West End as they headline “Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends” for 16 weeks only beginning in September.

"I cannot wait to start working on this along with some old friends of my own!!! This is going to be fun!" wrote Lea on Instagram on Feb. 13.

This will be the first time that Lea will be returning to the London stage in 27 years. Her last appearance on the West End was for the musical Les Miserables where she played Eponine at the Palace Theater in 1996.

Also joining Lea and Bernadette in “Old Friends” are Christine Allado, Janie Dee, Bonnie Langford, Jeremy Secomb, Beatrice Penny-Toure, Joanna Riding, Jac Yarrow, and more. Other members of the cast will be announced soon.

"Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends" is Cameron Mackintosh's tribute concert to the late musical theatre innovator Stephen Sondheim. 

"Old Friends" will be staged at the Gielgud Theatre from Sept. 16, 2023 to Jan. 6, 2024, according to broadwayworld.com.

Tickets will go on sale on Feb. 22 to priority bookers and DMT+ members, with a general on-sale on Feb. 27 at 11 am.

Cameron recalled how "Old Friends" started its journey to the West End, according to broadwayworld.com.

"Old Friends began its journey to the West End in a conversation I had with Steve during our enforced pandemic isolation - 'It's time we did a third show' said Steve, and complete the trilogy that started with Side-by-Side by Sondheim in the 1970s, followed by Putting It Together in the '90s.

"We commenced work on it but as theatres and shows started to reopen post Covid, we got distracted and then suddenly on Thanksgiving just over a year ago Steve sadly left us, leaving his extraordinary legacy of work to live on forever.

"Over Christmas '21 I put together all our thoughts, and inspired by the shows I had worked on with him and Julia McKenzie, and the desire to showcase his greatest music as well as his great lyrics, the material of Old Friends miraculously fell onto the page pretty much as it is.

"Thanks to a phenomenal Gala cast, the show proved to be the great celebration we all wanted for our friend and inspiration - performed in the Sondheim Theatre, which I had rebuilt and renamed in his honour.

"The response to both the show and the subsequent television version recently screened by the BBC over the New Year has been quite overwhelming, so I am thrilled that Broadway legend, Bernadette Peters, one of my favourite old friends, is going to reprise her brilliant performance in what is astonishingly going to be her British stage debut - to be joined by Lea Salonga, who of course became my youngest old friend, when she created a sensation at the age of 17, starring in the original Miss Saigon - this will be her first West End run since Les Misérables 27 years ago.

"Bernadette and Lea head a stellar cast of co-stars, many of whom also appeared in last year's unforgettable Gala. Steve was always a Broadway Baby at heart, so I'm delighted that I have been able to put together one last great hurrah for my old friend, containing many of the greatest songs ever written for the musical theatre, in one 'great big Broadway show' - just as he wanted," Cameron also said.