Lea Salonga’s 40th: Unapologetically authentic

Analette Abesamis

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Lea Salonga’s 40th: Unapologetically authentic
For two magical nights in Manila, Lea Salonga leaves her heart on the stage

Lea Salonga always opens her show with her little brother’s overture. It’s one of the things I look forward to as it provides an overview of things to come.

For Lea’s 40th anniversary concert, Gerard Salonga’s overture was simply impeccable.

The repertoire might come as a surprise to some fans – with most expecting her to sing her greatest hits. The concert, after all, was her 40th anniversary concert.

No, it was not a discography concert. It was a concert about gratitude, love, and family.

It might not also be as cohesive as some might think. One minute you’re bobbing your head to “Drops of Jupiter,” next thing you know she’s slowing it down with a song from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. But there was no mistaking it, there was a narrative and each song was selected for a reason. It was a story Lea wanted to tell through music. It was Lea sharing a part of her.

Lea gave a classic throwback and started off with “I Am But A Small Voice” and transitioned into “This is Me.” It was a strong opening statement. Lea was stomping her feet as she sang with overwhelming conviction. She is who she is – unapologetically authentic.

The show was really packed so let me just share a few things that had me crying to snot.

Sara Bareilles “Brave” felt like a strong steady force that holds you through tough times. The arrangement was gentle and slower, and it was sung with unbelievable tenderness and vulnerability.

It was like an old friend silently holding your hand and letting you know that you can be brave and that it’s going to be okay.

Then there’s the gift – Simon Bowman. A sweet, sweet gift from Lea to her fans.

Simon originated the role of “Chris” in Miss Saigon. He was Lea’s first romantic leading man.

Simon and Lea sang “Sun and Moon” and “Last Night of the World” from Miss Saigon. The number was a showstopper; it brought the house down. It was simply too much for one heart.

As it was told in Miss Saigon, it’s easy to drown in this world of chaos and madness, but if you slow down and look around, there are moments of beauty – fleeting or otherwise.

And to give a nod and inspiration to those in rough places, Lea with her special guests Mark Bautista, Simon Bowman, Esang de Torres, and her daughter Nicole Chien sang “Found/Tonight.” A mash-up of “You Will Be Found” from the musical Dear Evan Hansen and “The Story of Tonight” from Hamilton: An American Musical.

A story has been beautifully told.

She has performed worldwide with audiences from different walks of life. She has a Tony and an Olivier. She’s a Disney Legend. She could’ve chosen anywhere but here.

But she came home.

She chose to be back in the Philippines to celebrate her 40 years in the business with her countrymen.

A lot of people call her “pitch perfect” but even with that distinction, she hasn’t stopped improving her craft. I have seen and experienced her unbelievable talent through the years. She has always hit the notes with precision, but if you listen closely, there are nuances in how she is hitting those very same notes as she goes through life.

My takeaway from her illustrious career? Never stop learning and improving your craft, always be thankful, and never forget where it all began. – Rappler.com

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