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EST Marathon 2011: Series B

Lea Salonga: New York In June

The Tony Award winner's new cabaret show at the Cafe Carlyle showcases her crystalline voice and engaging personality.

By New York City
Lea Salonga
(© Ronnie O. Salvacion)
Lea Salonga
(© Ronnie O. Salvacion)
Hewing to the title of her new show at the Café Carlyle, New York in June, Tony Award winner Lea Salonga delivers a bright, sunny show that well showcases her crystalline voice and engaging personality.

Singing an eclectic mixture of pop standards, theater songs, traditional Filipino numbers and a few contemporary gems, the 40-year-old star proves as enchanting as the princesses whose voices she provided in Disney films Aladdin and Mulan.

Still, don't look for any numbers from those trademark roles, or her turns in such musicals as Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, though she does sing a touching version of "Love, Look Away," from Flower Drum Song, in which she starred in the most recent Broadway revival.

Accompanied by a trio led by pianist/musical director Larry Yurman, Salonga displays a welcome sense of humor, whether racing through Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere" (judging from her bio, it's apparent she truly has); combining The Sherman Brothers' "Femininity" with Rodgers and Hammerstein's "I Enjoy Being a Girl," with the latter delivered as a mock angry diatribe; or acerbically commenting that she's "played three prostitutes on Broadway."

The program includes several artfully blended medleys, including an opener that weaves together "Orange Colored Sky," "How About You?" and "The More I See You." Rupert Holmes' "Nearsighted" is wittily paired with Dietz and Schwartz's "I See Your Face Before Me," and she celebrates her marriage with a lovely combination of the Beatles' "Blackbird" and Kander and Ebb's "A Quiet Thing."

Her stage patter is often quite amusing, such as her sarcastic reading of a quiz designed to determine "How Filipino Are You?" But it also has a rehearsed quality that seems more calculated than revealing. On opening night, it was only when a child's voice rang out and she commented, "That's my daughter and my mother...now, back to me," did a real element of spontaneity emerge.


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