Cabaret Festival

Lea Salonga – 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Presented by 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed Saturday 9th June 2012

Lea Salonga’s concert reflected on her career so far and, therefore, included a wide range of music from films and musicals. At the age of seven she began her career by appearing in a production of The King and I and so it was only natural that there should be songs from that personally very important musical. Portraying a daughter of the King of Siam, it was also the first, but not the last time that she would play a princess.

A decade later she shot to international fame when she was selected to play Kim in the first production of Miss Saigon, winning Olivier and Tony awards for her performance. Her performance of I’d Give My Life for You was a magical moment. The Disney organisation snapped her up to play Princess Jasmine in Aladdin, and Fa Mulan in the two Mulan animated films. Les Miserables was not overlooked, with I Dreamed a Dream, nor was Wicked, with Defying Gravity and For Good. Every song seemed to lift the electricity levels in the air, as her wonderfully rich, clear voice filled the Festival Theatre. In case all of that wasn’t enough, she also sang a few popular songs that have not been a part of her career, simply because she liked them, and a selection of songs associated with Barbara Streisand, for good measure.

Her brother, Gerard, is her musical director, and most of the orchestrations in the concert had been written by him. His own career, though, prevented him from coming with her. Lea Salonga had the good fortune, however, to be backed by The Adelaide Art Orchestra, on this occasion under the baton of rising star conductor, the statuesque Vanessa Scammel, whose stunning good looks were referred to by Salonga several times. The orchestra was superb, demonstrating great precision and injecting plenty of emotion to the ballads.

There is one woman out there somewhere, however, who will forever regret her decision to stay at home to watch rugby on television. She is the wife of Ian, the man who volunteered to go on stage to join Lea Salonga in a duet on A Whole New World. Salonga does this, she told us, at all of her concerts, with mixed results. From the way she said it, these interludes must normally be hilariously awful. Not this time, however, as he had a very fine singing voice and performed like a professional, even adding harmony lines. His wife will never forget the day that her dedication to that silly game prevented her from seeing her husband singing with an international star before an audience of 2,000 and also receiving overwhelming applause, plus approving looks and comments from Salonga and the orchestra members as well.

There were several standing ovations from the packed audience and a few encores from Salonga and, after the performance, it was almost impossible to get out of the theatre past the queue, well, vast crowd really, that was completely swamping the merchandise counter. There was no doubt at all about the popularity of Lea Salonga, and the effect that this marvellous concert had had on those who were lucky enough to have tickets.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

Cabaret Festival: Lea Salonga
Lea Salonga’s web site

Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: to 10th June, 2012
Duration: 2hr 20mins (incl interval)

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