Yes, the original Miss Saigon, the Philippines’ very own Lea Salonga, is back in the United Kingdom – at least for the whole month of July. And she is making quite a stir there. The Broadway and West End royalty is in the UK for her solo concert tour, aptly titled “Lea Salonga In Concert: The Original Miss Saigon Returns”, her first since she played Kim in Miss Saigon 30 years ago.
Her concert has seven shows in six venues across the UK. The first show at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre reunited the Olivier and Tony Award winner with Simon Bowman, who played Kim’s lover Chris in the original West End production of Miss Saigon in 1989. The video of their duet of “A Whole New World” is now being widely shared on social media.
Lea wrote in her Backstory column on Philippine Daily Inquirer that the performance with Bowman was unplanned. “We did it without even one rehearsal. He (Simon Bowman) just happened to be in Cardiff (his hometown) caring for his mother and wanted to come see the show. We then asked him if he would be OK to sing one song with me, and he thankfully said yes,” wrote Lea.
To recall, Lea was sidelined by a leg injury from a skiing accident in Japan earlier this year, so the concert was postponed. Still, Lea was thankful for the postponement since it spared her from the “damp, bone-chilling British winters”. According to her, “Kismet couldn’t have timed it even more perfectly. Perhaps the forces of the universe conspired to break my leg early this year, because it forced us to postpone to this summer.”
The other six shows of her concert tour were as follows: July 10 at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall; July 11 at Birmingham, Symphony Hall; July 13 at Manchester, Opera House; July 18 at York, Barbican; July 21, two shows at London, Palladium.
In-between her concert tour, Lea also managed to perform at the finale of Lytham Festival, Lancashire’s biggest music festival. She performed with other theater actors including Luke McCall, who sang “Shallow” from “A Star is Born” with Lea. She also sang a stirring rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables.
We will see more of Lea back home soon as she resumes judging and coaching chores for Season 4 of The Voice Kids Philippines, together with Sarah Geronimo and Bamboo. She will also have solo concert, “Perfect Ten”, at Resorts World Manila on August 30 and 31. In October, she will headline the Manila production of Sweeney Todd as Mrs. Lovett. We can’t get enough of her!