Lea Salonga then and now: 12 amazing moments

Alexa Villano

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Lea Salonga then and now: 12 amazing moments
Kim in 'Miss Saigon,' Fantine and Eponine in 'Les Miserables,' and the singing voice of Jasmine and Mulan – these are just some of the international star's many accomplishments

MANILA, Philippines – Lea Salonga is hailed as one of the Philippines’ icons in the entertainment industry. Having appeared in various theater productions and movies at a young age, she was indeed destined to become the superstar now that she is. We look back at 12 of her amazing moments onstage and on television.

1. Lea as the beautiful, hopeful Kim in Miss Saigon 



In 1989, Cameron Mackintosh, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg launched Miss Saigon in London, in what would become one of the biggest musicals in history. The trio along, with their casting directors, came to Manila where Lea auditioned for the role of Kim. She eventually got the part and performed with Simon Bowman and Jonathan Pryce. 

In the video above, a young Lea is still learning the song – but the crystal clear quality of her voice, plus that unnamed, sweet appeal, is already apparent. 

In 1991, Lea won recognition for her role as Kim, nabbing Tony, Olivier and Drama Desk awards.




2. Making History: Eponine and Fantine in Les Miserables



Following her performance in Miss Saigon, Lea joined the cast of Les Miserables in 1993. She was cast as Eponine, the unfortunate young girl with unrequited feelings for Marius, who sings the iconic song “On My Own.”

Lea played Eponine again in the 10th anniversary presentation at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1995.


In 2010, she returned to Les Miserables for the 25th anniversary presentation playing the role of Fantine. 

3. Disney Legend: The singing voice of Princess Jasmine 


In 1992, the Disney movie Aladdin was released, featuring Lea as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine. She recorded the song “A Whole New World” opposite Brad Kane, and performed in the 1993 Academy Awards. 


The cast reunited in October 2015 – check it out here and here. And watch her performing “A Whole New World” here with Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda in November 2015.  

4. Flawless as Mulan

In 1998, Lea once again lent her singing voice to the movie Mulan, singing the part of the heroine Fa Mulan. She also sang the part in the sequel Mulan II.


5. 2002 56th Tony Awards Performance 


In a tribute to Richard Rodgers, Lea sang the song “I Enjoy Being A Girl,” with stars such as Harry Connick Jr., Michele Lee, and Peter Gallagher. 

6.  Voice actor in My Neighbor Totoro as Mrs Kusakabe


Lea lent her voice to the English dubbed version of My Neighbor Totoro as Mrs Kusakabe alongside Dakota and Elle Fanning released in 2005. The movie was directed and written by animation legend Hayao Miyazaki. 


7. Miss Saigon 25th anniversary appearance


On September 22, the audience at the Prince Edward Theater in London got to witness a historic moment when Lea, along with the original cast of the 1989 Miss Saigon, appeared for the show’s 25th anniversary presentation. They performed with the current cast, singing songs such as “Movie in My Mind,” “Last Night of the World,” and “The American Dream.”

8. Mentoring others as a coach on The Voice of the Philippines

With her years in performing onstage as a kid, it was only natural for Lea to mentor other artists as well. For the past two seasons, she has served as a mentor in the Filipino franchise of the hit show The Voice and The Voice Kids along with Sarah Geronimo, Bamboo Manalac and Alp. de. alp. She had the honor of being the winning coach during the first season, with her protege Mitoy Yonting.


9. Performing at the 15th Asian Games in Qatar


Lea took center stage in 2006 when she sang the song “Triumph of One” during the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

10. Appearance on ER


Lea made a special appearance in the show ER for its Christmas episode.

11. Touring with Il Divo 


Lea also participated in a world tour with Il Divo. Lea performed “A Whole New World” with the group – a performance that went viral, with many netizens commenting that her voice, 22 years after her role as the voice of Princess Jasmine, was just as sweet.  

12. Allegiance 


Fans can catch Lea in Allegiance in New York, with Telly Leung and George Takei. 

Allegiance, based on George Takei’s experiences, tells the story of brother and sister Sammy and Kei Kimura, who choose different paths to protect their family during the volatile times of uncertainty in the US in World War II.

In the video above, Lea performs the song “Higher” as Kei Kimura. 

These are only 12, but we’re sure there are many, many more in the hearts of her many fans. Do you have any favorite Lea Salonga moment to share? Let us know in the comments section below. – Rappler.com


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Alexa Villano

Alexa is one of Rappler's Lifestyle and Entertainment reporters, covering local entertainment news to a wide range of topics from beauty pageants to reality shows.