Philippines’ pride Lea Salonga is making a big splash on Broadway again via the musical ‘Once on This Island’, where she plays the role of Erzulie, the goddess of love. The revival of the 1990s musical marks Lea’s return to Broadway. The first Asian Tony awardee was last seen in the Broadway musical ‘Allegiance‘ in 2015.
Once on This Island is about a peasant girl Ti Moune who falls in love with Daniel, a wealthy boy from the other side of her island, whom she saved from a car crash. When he returns to his wealthy family on the other side of the island, four Gods: Mother of the Earth Asaka (Alex Newell of Glee), God of Water Agwé (Quentin Earl Darrington), Goddess of Love Erzulie (Lea Salonga) and Demon of Death Papa Ge (Merle Dandridge), guided Ti Moune through a test of her love against prejudice and hate. The musical is based on the novella My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy.
Watch Lea Salonga’s stirring rendition of ‘The Human Heart’ from the musical here:
In a recent Facebook Live, Lea talked about being part Once On This Island. She gushed over the positive vibes and energy among the cast. The cast of the musical performed during the recent Thanksgiving Parade of Macy’s. Besides the other actors in the play, Lea said she loves the big headdress she wears as Erzulie, which “lights up like a Christmas tree” depending on the emotions of the character. As a techie, she likes the fact that it is electronically controlled.
According to Lea, she will not be spending Christmas in Manila as she will still be doing the play until then. The play opened on December 3 and will run until the end of the year. However, she will come over for a quick visit just to see her daughter’s performance in Matilda.
Nicole Chien plays Alice, one of the revolting children, in the theater adaptation of Roald Dahl’s popular book. Lea said her daughter might not speak to her again if she doesn’t.
Lea also talked about her newly released CD, Bahaghari, during her recent Facebook Live session. Bahaghari is a collection of Philippine folk songs in six languages or dialects: Ilocano, Kapampangan, Bicolano, Bisaya, Ilonggo, and Tagalog. She said, of the six, she had a hard time singing in Ilocano and Bicolano because she does not really hear the two languages spoken in her daily life. As such, she consulted friends who spoke the languages.
Doesn’t Lea make you so proud to be Pinoy when she performs here and abroad?