Lea at Carnegie Hall (2005)

What the Critics Said (Concert Reviews)

Note: You can read the entire reviews by going to the respective websites of the publication the reviews were taken. No copyright laws are meant to be infringed.

From Playbill by Andrew Gans  http://www.playbill.com/news/article/96193.html

LEA SALONGA at Carnegie Hall

There are few singers in the musical theatre who boast a voice as beautiful as Lea Salonga's. The former Miss Saigon star possesses a pure, rich, creamy tone and exquisite control of her instrument throughout its entire, impressive range. And, on Monday night, in an evening benefiting Diverse City Theater Company, Salonga proved her mettle in a three-hour evening — directed sublimely and with theatrical flare by Richard Jay-Alexander — that featured songs mostly drawn from the musical theatre's past few decades.

Elegantly dressed in a black pantsuit by Rajo Laurel (Carmen Marc Valvo designed Salonga's second-act gown), the Tony Award-winning actress was visibly moved as she made her entrance onto the famed Carnegie Hall stage amid a throng of cheers from the packed house. After opening with Stephen Sondheim's "Another Hundred People," Salonga joked, "I'm so glad you're here to help me remember this night because right now I'm having an out-of-body experience." She introduced musical director-conductor Kevin Stites and the 28-piece orchestra before launching into the beautiful Barry Manilow-Johnny Mercer tune, "When October Goes." Salonga's jazz inflections and open, full tones were reminiscent of some of the great gal singers of the fifties; in fact, hers is such a pliable voice that she can take on several different vocal styles with ease. It is a voice that can croon the sweetest children's lullaby or belt out an emotional Broadway ballad.

Salonga then offered a terrific version of A Chorus Line's "Nothing," adapting the well-known Marvin Hamlisch-Ed Kleban tune to fit her specific heritage: "Maybe it's genetic. They don't have bobsleds in Manila," she sang to a roar of laughter. She then spoke about her audition, at age eight, for the Filipino production of Annie, explaining that after she sang "Tomorrow," those in the room gave the young star-to-be a standing ovation. "I knew right then I was going to like show business," Salonga admitted. She began singing an uptempo version of the Annie anthem, and midway through she was joined by the show's original star, Andrea McArdle, who was dressed in a slinky white gown; the combination of Salonga's lush vocals and McArdle's clear, powerful tones made for an especially exciting finale. Salonga then graciously stepped aside, and McArdle offered a solo version of Sondheim's "Everybody Says Don't," belting the Anyone Can Whistle tune with gusto.

Salonga returned to cite the musical influences of her childhood: Olivia Newton-John, the Osmonds, ABBA (after a humorous discussion of the correct pronunciation of karaoke, she asked the audience to join her for a quick a cappella rendition of "Dancing Queen") and the Carpenters. She explained the latter had a tremendous impact on her and her brother Gerard, who is often Salonga's musical director and who penned many of the evening's grand musical arrangements. Salonga paid tribute to the late Karen Carpenter with a wonderful medley of her hits, including "We've Only Just Begun, "I Won't Last a Day Without You" and "Just You"; in fact, as she began singing "We've Only Just Begun," I was struck by just how lovely Salonga's voice can be. A beautiful, almost classical arrangement of "True Colors" preceded two standards: the Gershwins' "Someone to Watch Over Me," which featured simple guitar accompaniment, and the 1924 Gus Kahn-Isham Jones classic, "It Had to Be You."

A simple, heartfelt rendition of Kander and Ebb's "Married" led to her introduction of husband Robert Chien, and then Salonga delivered a Filipino tune written by godfather Jose Mari Chan, the first person Salonga ever saw perform on the Carnegie stage. Entitled "Hahanapin Ko," Chan's song, said Salonga, "explains what ties all Filipinos, who are away, back to their home." It was one of the most heartfelt offerings of the night, and the audience responded enthusiastically. The actress announced that she and her husband are expecting their first child in May, and she then proceeded to launch into a particularly poignant rendition of Baby's "The Story Goes On." Halfway through the song, original Baby star Liz Callaway joined Salonga, and the soaring sounds of Callaway and Salonga was one of the most exciting vocal moments of the evening. Callaway, who brushed a few tears away, told Salonga that she sounds exactly the same as she did 14 years ago in Miss Saigon, adding with a laugh, "You also have not aged at all, and it's a little irritating!" Salonga and Callaway then re-created Miss Saigon's "I Still Believe," and over a decade later, their rendition of the duet between the ill-fated Kim and the American soldier's new wife Ellen has lost none of its power. In fact, it was the first song of the evening to bring the audience to its feet for a lengthy standing ovation. Callaway then took centerstage for a stentorian version of Stephen Schwartz's "Meadowlark."

Salonga spoke about the show that made her an international star, Miss Saigon, which brought her an Olivier Award for the London staging and a Tony for her Broadway work. She explained that, at 17, she wasn't quite ready for the sexual aspects of the show and was a bit shocked when she first saw the costume sketches and realized she would have to wear a bikini. In tears she called her father, saying, "They're only going to remember me for wearing a bikini!" Her pragmatic father responded, "They're not going to remember you for wearing that bikini. They're going to remember you for shooting yourself at the end of the show!" Salonga then closed the first half of her solo Carnegie Hall debut with an emotional, goose-bump inducing version of Saigon's "I'd Give My Life for You."

With but one exception — a wonderful, full-length version of "Reflections," the theme song from Disney's "Mulan" film — the second half of the evening featured one gloriously sung theatre tune after the other: Flower Drum Song's "I Enjoy Being a Girl" and "Love, Look Away"; Jesus Christ Superstar's "I Don't Know How to Love Him," which suited Salonga's voice perfectly; Funny Girl's "People," which utilized the original Broadway orchestrations; a lovely medley of Oliver's "Where Is Love?" and "As Long As He Needs Me" that built to a stunning climax; and two songs from Les Misérables. The first Les Miz offering was "On My Own," which Salonga explained was also her audition song for Miss Saigon. After listening to her exciting version of the Alain Boublil-Claude-Michel Schönberg tune, it's easy to understand why she landed the role. Paolo Montalban, who is currently starring in the Paper Mill Playhouse's production of Cinderella, then joined Salonga for a particularly touching version of Les Miz's "A Little Fall of Rain" as well as a solo on "My One and Only Love."

The evening concluded with Salonga's renditions of two songs from Wicked, the Stephen Schwartz musical that the actress said she would love to appear in at some point. She made a case for herself as Glinda with "Popular" — sounding astonishingly similar to Kristin Chenoweth — but a better case for herself as Elphaba with a rousing version of "Defying Gravity" that spectacularly ended the evening and spontaneously brought the crowd to its feet.

The star returned for an encore of Peter Allen's "I Honestly Love You," and then the audience demanded a second. Salonga explained that there was only one piece of music left, "A Whole New World," but the arrangement required another singer. She asked for a volunteer from the audience, and Daniel Berlin, a tall young man who had never previously met Salonga, performed the "Aladdin" tune almost perfectly to the delight of everyone in attendance. It was extremely touching to watch a somewhat nervous Berlin sing with a woman he obviously adores and to see Salonga guide him through the song, tenderly mouthing the lyric to him. It was a truly spirit-raising finale to a wonderful evening, and the crowd was once again on its feet cheering.


From Philippine Daily Inquirer by Ruben V. Nepales (www.inq7.net)

NEW YORK -- At the end of the debut concert of Lea Salonga at Carnegie Hall, the audience rose to its feet and gave the Philippines' pride an ovation.

From Los Angeles, we flew in and out of New York just to watch Lea, and boy, was the trip worth it!

We are still recovering from the heady experience of not only having shared a Lea Salonga milestone but also from having seen the Philippines' national musical treasure give an artistically mature, terrific performance.

Give credit to her experience that only years can give, marriage and her impending motherhood. For there was a forcefulness, grittiness and earthiness in the Lea Salonga that we saw and heard.

We've heard many of the songs (exquisitely arranged by her brother Gerard who was absent due to a commitment in Manila) from CD recordings of her live Manila concerts on Sony BMG Records but at Carnegie she sang them with more passion.

After an introduction and remarks by Victor Lirio and Liz Casasola, for whose Diverse City Theater Company the benefit concert was held, Lea entered the stage, and immediately, she was visibly touched and overwhelmed by the sight of Carnegie's majestic balconies filled to capacity.

Wearing a tuxedo pantsuit, Lea put her hands on her chest and said, "I am so glad that all of you are here." Exclaiming that this was like having "an out- of-body experience," she added, "I've sung all over the world but nothing quite prepared me for this."

She was probably overwhelmed initially, resulting in a rather tentative opening number, "Another 100 People." But in her second number, Johnny Mercer's "When October Goes," she had the audience in the palm of her hand.

Master conductor, director

The lush 28-piece orchestra, animatedly conducted by music director Kevin Stites (on his off night from the musical version of "The Color Purple"), beautifully accompanied Lea in one of the many standards that she would sing which showcased her welcome growth as a musical artist. She also had the privilege of being directed in the show by Richard Jay-Alexander, who has helmed concerts by such names as Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler and Bernadette Peters.

Even when Lea switched to a young actress' tale of woe with her acting teacher in "Nothing," she was refreshingly spirited, playfully replacing the key lyrics of this song from "A Chorus Line" to suit her own thespic journey.

Admiring smiles

The American musicians, an experienced, masterful lot, smiled in admiration at the musical dynamo in front of them. I often glimpsed the musicians occasionally looking at Lea, their faces indicating admiration.

The Tony award-winning performer actually knelt on the stage floor when her first guest, Andrea McArdle (Broadway's original Annie), joined her in a duet of -- what else -- "Tomorrow." "She became my God," quipped Lea of Andrea who became her inspiration when she listened to the original "Annie" cast soundtrack recording at the age of eight. Of course, the two Annies sang "Tomorrow" from the perspective of two wiser, more experienced stage women. Lea then exited the stage for Andrea's solo, "Everybody Says Don't."

Pop songs

Even when Lea sang simple pop songs such as the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" and "You," she brought out the gem in these pieces. At one point in these songs, she turned and addressed the romantic lyrics to her husband Robert Chien, who was in the audience.

But no other pop song in Lea's very challenging repertoire affected me more than "True Colors." Who knew that there was passion and fury in this Phil Collins Top 40 number?

Lea completely surprised me by coaxing the high emotions in this seemingly innocuous song. She turned it into a supremely involving inspirational anthem. I have to be man enough to admit that with the passionate way Lea sang this radio staple, she moved me, um, to tears. I tried my darndest best to discreetly wipe away the tears.

Jazzed up

With her slightly jazzed-up renditions of the classic standards "Someone To Watch Over Me" (where she was exquisitely accompanied only by a guitarist) and "It Had To Be You" (rhythm section only), Lea showed the path that she is naturally progressing toward. She proved that she has the chops to sing standards and jazz if someday she decides to take this path.

In "Married," Lea, accompanied only by a pianist, winked at Robert -- I think we are all fortunate that the singer is so obviously in love -- it definitely helped in her admirably grown-up, passionate interpretation of numbers.

Filipino number

Lea introduced the Filipino number in the show by saying, "The Philippines is very much a large part of who I am." Then she acknowledged the co-composer of "Hahanapin Ko," her wedding godfather Jose Mari Chan, who was in the audience.

It was a treat for the Filipinos in the crowd to hear live inside the grand space of the Carnegie this combination -- Jose Mari's music, Jimmy Santiago's Filipino lyrics of longing, Lea's dulcet tones and Gerard's arrangements (a departure from the song's kind of cloying, disco-fied original incarnation). The Pinoy spectators in the audience roared with approval.

Standing ovation

When Lea and her other female guest, Liz Callaway (the original Ellen in "Miss Saigon") sang the duet "I Still Believe," 14 years since they originally sang it together on Broadway, their glorious blending of voices elicited the evening's first standing ovation. It was a fantastic melding of two of the finest voices in musical theater today.

Lea was indeed generous and confident of her own talents to share the stage with a knockout talent like Liz who, in her solo number, eclipsed Patti LuPone's signature version of "Meadowlark."


Displaying the humorous bent she displayed throughout the evening, Lea introduced her "Miss Saigon" showstopper, "I'd Give My Life For You," with funny anecdotes about being "17, conservative and Catholic" when she took on the career-making role of Kim in London. Lea ended Act One with her much more impassioned version now of "I'd Give My ..."

Act Two began with Lea's two signature numbers from her "Flower Drum Song" revival, "I Enjoy Being a Girl" and "Love, Look Away" (she'll get career-lasting credit for bringing out the beauty of this sad ballad), and "Reflection" from her Disney/"Mulan" phase.

Lea shone in her heartfelt rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "I Don't Know How To Love Him." Now that Lea is a woman with a capital W, a role as Mary Magdalene in a "Jesus Christ Superstar" revival should be in her future.


The artist's breathtaking take of "People" and "Where is Love/As Long As He Needs Me" again displayed her increasing interest in and mastery of the standards genre.

No run-through of her repertoire would be complete without her "Le Miz" crowd-pleaser, "On My Own," of course. Guest Paolo Montalban, making the most of his night off as Prince in a current "Cinderella" production, sang "A Little Fall of Rain," also from "Le Miz," with his host. Paolo's solo number was "The Very Thought of You."

Sax solo

Lea clinched her mastery of standards with a scintillating "My One and Only Love," where a beautiful sax solo reverberating through Carnegie's Isaac Stern Auditorium was one of the night's pleasures. The Philippines' pride next tackled two songs from "Wicked," the new hit musical she's aspiring to appear in someday. She aced the first one, "Popular," and had fun with the called-for exaggerated delivery of some of the lyrics.

Before she dared to tackle "Defying Gravity," a challenging piece that does indeed demand difficult musical lifts, Lea made the sign of the cross. She may no longer be 17 and conservative but she is still Catholic. We gave Lea high marks for having the guts to sing this dazzling number from "Wicked."


For her encore, Lea sang "I Honestly Love You," a refreshingly low-key piece with just the piano and strings, and again she proved how adept she has become in turning a maudlin ballad into a quietly stirring number.

When she exited the stage one more time, the audience wanted more so she came back with "A Whole New World." Lea sang her Disney standard with a male volunteer from the audience who knew the lyrics.

The last encore song's title is appropriate. With the growing musical maturity she displayed all evening, a whole new world awaits Lea indeed.


From Broadwayworld.com by Robert Diamond http://www.broadwayworld.com/viewcolumn.cfm?colid=5771

Tony-Winner Lea Salonga wowed a SOLD OUT crowd at Carnegie Hall on Monday night, November 7, to benefit the Diverse City Theatre Group. The benefit was in extremely good hands with the uber-talented Salonga - led by director Richard Jay-Alexander and music director/conducter Kevin Stites. Joining her on stage during the evening were three very special guests, including her first 'musical theatre God' Andrea McArdle for a duet of ANNIE's 'Tomorrow,' former MISS SAIGON co-star Liz Callaway, who duetted with Lea on an extremely emotional 'The Story Goes On' from BABY (after Salonga announced that she is pregnant), and 'I Still Believe' from MISS SAIGON. Richard Maltby, Jr. of BABY and MISS SAIGON fame, had to pick his jaw up off the floor at the end of ACT 1. Also, fellow Filipino, and Cinderella star Paolo Montalban, took up Marius duties for 'A Little Fall of Rain' from Les Miz.

During the two-act, glamour filled show, they traversed the worlds of Broadway, Jazz, Filipino music and several pop hits. Some of the night's many showstopping moments included 'We've Only Just Begun,' 'True Colors,' 'I Enjoy Being A Girl,' 'Love Look Away,' 'People (with the original 1964 Broadway orchestration!), 'On My Own', 'Where is Love? / As Long as He Needs Me,' 'Reflection,' 'Popular,' and a 'Defying Gravity' - which was performed like no one else has sung it yet! The night was full of standing ovations, and anyone who was there to witness the physically and vocally ravishing Salonga, will never forget this powerhouse night at Carnegie Hall.


By Janet Susan R. Nepales http://www.philippinenews.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=f72d74880164

Lea wows crowd in an unforgettable Carnegie Hall debut

NEW YORK ­ ³I am having an out of body experience!² exclaimed Tony Award-winning international star Lea Salonga as soon as she stepped out onstage at the Carnegie Hall for her much awaited debut concert.

Dressed elegantly in a handsome black pantsuit by Rajo Laurel, Lea was choking with emotion, shaking her hands, reminding herself to breathe and holding back her tears as the crowd warmly welcomed her with thunderous applause and a standing ovation (the first of several to come).

We did not want to miss this so we flew from Los Angeles to New York just to watch this debut.

The preggy Lea beamed radiantly as she waved to the audience and admitted that she had been looking forward to this night. ³I have always dreamt of performing here and I canıt believe this night has come,² she said.

It was an unforgettable evening benefiting the Diverse City Theater Company, a non-profit company headed by good friend artistic director Victor Lirio and Liz Casasola who both opened the show thanking Lea and other supporters of the Company that deals with social and cultural issues.

Victor explained, ³We want to discover and celebrate what it means to be an American artist in a country that has become larger than the geographical space it occupies. We strongly advocate non-traditional casting of actors. Our company is young, but our heart is large and our mission ambitious.²

Directed by Richard Jay-Alexander (her ³Les Miz² director) and accompanied by a 28-piece orchestra, Lea introduced her musical director-conductor Kevin Stites after singing Stephen Sondheimıs ³Another Hundred People.² Kevin, who
is busy doing Oprah Winfreyıs musical ³The Color Purple,² worked with Lea before in an Alain Boublil/Claude-Michel Schonberg concert in the Philippines. Richard, on the other hand, had directed Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand onstage.

Her equally talented brother Gerard who was not able to watch her due to some commitments in Manila impressively arranged most of the arrangements of her songs for the night. One of our favorite songs was the Cindy Lauper-Phil
Collinsı song, ³True Colors,² which Lea sang so beautifully that we could feel every word that she said in her rich, clear, pure voice.

Present in the audience to give her moral support were her husband Robert Chien and her mother Ligaya Salonga.

Accompanied by a sax player, Lea crooned the Barry Manilow-Johnny Mercer song, ³When October Goes² and we felt she was just singing to us.

Then she bounced into her catchy version of A Chorus Lineıs ³Nothing² with Lea changing the name Maria to Salonga and even adding, ³Maybe itıs genetic. There are no bobsleds in Manila.² She even acted out a lot in this number by kneeling and praying as well as doing an impromptu ³take this² gesture with her arms.

One of her guests that night whom she called as ³my God² was Andrea McArdle, the original star of ³Annie,² the musical that started it all for Lea when she was eight. Lea welcomed Andrea by bowing to her and going down on her knees. ³I learned this song like the back of my hand and I am honored to have the original singer of that song to perform with me tonight,² Lea

Then she and Andrea sang ³Tomorrow² to the delight of the crowd after which Lea disclosed, ³That was a dream.²

Andrea, who was dressed in a white glittery gown, sang solo Sondheimıs ³Everybody Says Donıt.²

Lea came back and admitted to the crowd that when she was growing up, she was influenced by the likes of Olivia Newton-John, Donny Osmond, ABBA and Karen Carpenter. She then proceeded to sing a medley of Carpenter songs like ³Weıve Only Just Begun,² ³I Wonıt Last a Day without You² and ³Just You.²

When she did Kander and Ebbıs ³Married,² she winked and looked at her hubby Robert who was sitting on the third row.

Another memorable number was her rendition of the Filipino song, ³Hahanapin Ko² by Jose Mari Chan who was also in the audience that night.

A showstopper that night was her duet with Liz Callaway who performed with Lea in ³Miss Saigon.² They did an exceptional rendition of ³I Still Believe² which earned for them a standing ovation. Liz, who commented that Lea ³hasnıt aged a bit and that is a little irritating,² also introduced her 14-year-old son who was in the audience. She just gave birth to him before she did ³Miss Saigon² two weeks later as the American wife, Ellen.

For the second half of the show, Lea changed into a sexy, sleeveless, body hugging black Carmen Marc Valvo-designed dress with a plunging neckline.

She did what she called an extended version of ³Reflections² from Disneyıs ³Mulan,² and then followed it with ³Flower Drum Songıs² ³I Enjoy Being A Girl² and ³Love, Look Away.²

Other Broadway songs that she sang were Jesus Christ Superstarıs ³I Donıt Know How to Love Him,² Funny Girlıs ³People,² (Lea said, ³I dare attempt to sing Barbra Streisandıs song.²) and Oliverıs ³Where is Love?² and ³As Long as He Needs Me.²

After hearing Lea sing the Le Miz song ³On My Own,² her audition piece for ³Miss Saigon,² it confirmed to us once more, why she got the part of Kim.

³This was originally planned to be an all-girl concert, but we later changed that,² Lea revealed. Then she introduced Paolo Montalban, who is currently doing the Prince role in the production ³Cinderella,² and sang the Les Miz song ³A Little Fall of Rain² with him. ³Paolo had to learn this song just for this concert,² Lea disclosed.

Lea confessed that one musical that she wanted to do was ³Wicked.² She then proceeded to sing ³Popular² and after doing the sign of the cross and muttering, ³Oh God, please help me,² proceeded to do the challenging song, ³Defying Gravity.²

For her encore number, Lea did Peter Allenıs ³I Honestly Love You² and then asked for a volunteer from the audience to do a duet with her. A big, tall guy, Daniel Berlin, was the chosen one and he did a wonderful rendition of Aladdinıs ³A Whole New World² with Lea who guided him along the way by mouthing the lyrics to him. He was later handed a pass to the after-concert victory party at Providence restaurant.

Here is another toast to the Carnegie Hall star, Lea!


What the Fans Said...

Note: I got these fan reviews from different message boards and forums. If you would like your review be removed, please email me at thevoicelsmp@yahoo.com

From Jaymac

To sum it in one word - AMAZING! It's basically a Broadway concert and the venue added a touch of class and glamour to the show. Lea is in excellent voice as expected. Here is the line up of songs for the evening


OVERTURE - Miss Saigon theme " This is the Hour"

This song was very apt as the concert was in New York City. Great song for Lea's voice

NOTHING - A Chorus Line -
I've heard her do this many times but she has connected with the song in a more personal level by changing a few lines - MORALES into SALONGA - and there are no bobsleds in MANILA.

Lea started with a history of how she auditioned for Annie in Manila, and how Annie brought her to the map in Manila and how she adored Andrea McArdle in the original CD. Then she started singing TOMORROW and midway into the song Andrea Mcardle came out to duet with Lea. It's thrilling to see her and Andrea - two Annie's in their 30s belting out tomorrow. Oh by the way - Lea bowed to her knees as Andrea entered.

solo by Andrea McArdle She is a very good belter, I saw her once before in Beauty and the Beast as Belle.

Lea comes back on stage to talk about the Filipinos love of Karaoke, and even teaching everyone the way it's pronounced back home KA-RA -O -KE as opposed to karyoki in the US. and then burst into
DANCING QUEEN - by ABBA mentioning that what karaoke loving girl in her right mind would not sing DANCING QUEEN. Then she invites the audience to join her in the song and then abruptly cuts them off saying this is my show, and then segues into a CARPENTERS medley - introduction includes parallel comparison between the Carpenters siblings with Lea and Gerard as a sibling musical team. Anyway, I think she sang WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN

TRUE COLORS - by Billy Steinberg immediately following

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME - by George and Ira Gershwin
accompanied by an acoustic guitarvery classy in my opinion. Lea's banter and connection has never been so good. I used to not like her introductions as it seemed too rehearsed but this time she is connecting so well with her audience and just having a great time in sharing herself , her life, her music, and her Filipino heritage to the people.

standard ballad , nothing more to add except she sang it really well again

MARRIED - from Cabaret
funny song as she flashes her wedding ring and introducing her husband who's seated in the third row.

HAHANAPIN KO - by Jose Mari Chan
Lea introduced the composer Jose Mari Chan, her godfather who happens to be sitting right in front of me. This a standard Joe Mari ballad, very soothing and sentimental. Lea explained that this song allows her to express how Filipinos feel when abroad as they yearn for their loved ones back home.

Lea proudly announced that she has just passed her first trimester and is expecting her first child in May. The lyrics were heartfelt and she was joined midsong by original Lizzie LIZ CALLAWAY. Liz was weepy after the song as she explained that she started crying as soon as she heard Lea sing The Story goes On. Liz introduced her 14 year old son seated in the 4th row who Lea used to carry in the dressing room when they did Miss Saigon 14 years ago. Apparently, her son cried everytime Lea picked him up. Liz and Lea had good chemistry and shared stories about Miss Saigon which set up the next song. Lea as Kim in Vietnam downstage right and Liz as Ellen on a platform upstage in the US. Before they started the next song, they asked the audience to forgive them if they can't do it as they have not sung this song together in 14 years.

I STILL BELIEVE - from Miss Saigon
Lea Salonga and Liz Callaway - original Broadway KIM and ELLEN with a full orchestra is just superb. The song brought forth an instant standing ovation from the audience. Again, Liz could not contain herself after singing the song. Lea left the stage to let Liz sing her song.

MEADOWLARK - from The Baker's Wife
solo by LIZ CALLAWAY She was great.

Act 1 Finale

Isn't that amazing?? I was seated 8th row center aisle. I couldn't contain my excitement as I have never witnessed Lea in such a great concert. I attended her recent concert in ATLANTIC CITY and this was by far the best one so far. I love her song choices and I could see how well she was directed by Richard Jay Alexander. This show was seamless, the transition between songs were very well done and Lea was great. She owned the place and commanded everyone's attention. Doesn't she ALWAYS?? I'm biased but you must agree with me. I caught up with Carla Guevara during intermission who introduced me to Jose Mari Chan.



Lea enters in a low cut, sexy black gown and utters - "NOT BAD for a 3 month pregnant girl"?

I ENJOY BEING A GIRL - from Flower Drum Song
Act 2 opener was fun, Lea played around with the song and was just flouncing about and just showing her stuff.

LOVE LOOK AWAY - from Flower Drum Song
Lea's signature song from Flower Drum Song was exquisitely executed. She explained that her experience in Flower Drum Song was amazing.

Introduction about being a Disney princess, how she was hot property for little girls in 4 and under set, and how a mom in Santa Cruz, California approached her and introduced her to her little girl as Princess Jasmine. Lea obliged by asking the girls to close their eyes as she serenaded them with A WHOLE NEW WORLD. - The song was cut off after 2 lines as she introduces her next Disney princess role , that of Mulan and how she recorded a song 3 years before the film was released only to be told a year later that the song was not working and has to be cut short. Therefore, whenever she has the chance , she gets to take her revenge on Mickey Mouse by singing the extended version of the song.

I love this song.

I DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM - from Jesus Christ Superstar
Lea talked about Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and how in the 60s and 70s, he reigned supreme in London and New York. This song is her favorite of all of Lloyd Webber's songs. I am running out of superlatives to descibe each song. Suffice to say, the classiest and most splendid rendition of I Don't Know How to Love Him that I have heard. The only one I liked was Claire Moore's version.

Lea mentioned this as her homage to Barbra Streisand and that they were using the original Broadway orchestration as heard onstage at the Winter Garden Theater in 1964. Need I say more?

Belty the way I like it, the Lea way

Here comes the Les Miz portion of the show

ON MY OWN - from Les Miserables
Lea's audition piece for Miss Saigon. Lea's ON MY OWN is my favorite version of the song. Everybody knows this and I think everybody agrees with me. Who wants to listen to Frances Rufelle anyway? Who cares that she won the Tony for this part , her voice is not for me.

A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN - from Les Miserables
Eponine's death song when she comes back from the barricades and realizes that she was hit by a bullet.
Frankly, Paolo was just OK, good looking chap but he seems to be not there. I've seen him before in Pacific Overtures and Cinderella on DVD and incidentally, he's currently reprising the prince in Cinderella at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.
Lea performs the song the same way as the first time you saw her perform the song - Les Mis 10th anniversary concert. Should I say c'est magnifique!

by Paolo Montalban
I don't know this song, and I don't know where it came from, it's a jazzy ballad that fits Paolo's voice. Again, he's not very comfortable onstage, at least from what I can see.

Lea returns to top off the evening by saying that in the current Broadway season, she has been eyeing two shows, and three roles , that of the Lady of the Lake in SPAMALOT and Glinda or Elphaba in WICKED, which she has been very vocal about in all of her interviews so this is no big news. The BIG surprise is - she sang two songs from the show.

Lea sounded a lot like Kristin Chenoweth and was bouncing about just like Glinda. I want her as Elphaba though.

And the song, that everyone was expecting from her

Elphaba's act 1 finale
Lea said a quick prayer before the orchestra played hoping for a good turn. SHE Nailed the song. I can't wait for Lea to give birth , recover and come back on Broadway to be the next Elphaba. I will be the first one in line to get tickets, and will be coming back to win the lottery on a regular basis. Lea had her own take on Defying Gravity, shifting from head to chest especially on the high part. I'm sure once Lea got to do the part , she will be belting the song out every single night.

I HONESTLY LOVE YOU - by Peter Allen
from the BOY FROM OZ - Lea made a mistake saying it's from the BOY OF OZ with Hugh Jackman. Nice song, everyone's familiar with it.

2nd ENCORE -
A WHOLE NEW WORLD - from Aladdin
duet with Danny - a volunteer from the audience
It was a hoot , as Lea said that they have a predicament. Only one song left, and no one to sing it with her. I was thinking Jose Mari Chan would be called on to sing the song with her. She was calling for a volunteer and I almost did, except of course, i do not have the nerve to do so. Danny did well, cept for going off key at some parts. Wish i could have done it as I have rehearsed singing this duet with Lea while listening to A WHOLE NEW WORLD over and over again when the movie came out in 1993. It would have been fun. Well, it's just a fantasy hehe but it did come true for Danny

It was a great night. I had a great seat. I wish I could see it again. Lea did a fantastic fabulous job! Can't wait for her next project.


From MusicalTheater1

The concert? Brava to Lea, her guests, the orchestra, and the production team. Let me list her repertoire with my personal comments, if I may:

OVERTURE - Miss Saigon theme " This is the Hour" - I wasn't expecting this overture. Blew me away with the thunderous symphony. Quite dramatic.

Lea entered from stage right in a classic Filipino designer black tuxedo pant suit.

ANOTHER HUNDRED PEOPLE - Company - Got to admit, Sondheim songs are just too difficult to sing. She did it well.

WHEN OCTOBER GOES - Barry Manilow - THE BEST remake of a song...let me tell you...with this song, she immediately captured the audience. Sung with so much passion and emotion, it just brought the huge hall to a stand still.

NOTHING - A Chorus Line - This song was just funny, and sad at the end. She took the audience to that scene in Chorus Line. Good touch by using "Salonga" instead of "Morales" in the song, quite effective. She also added "Manila" to the song instead of having "bobsleds in San Juan." Funny and talented!

TOMORROW - Annie - Not the standard stage version but more of the symphonic melodic version. The 28-piece orchestra sounded so colorful in that vast hall and with this version made the song sound even better. This was the time when she introduced Andrea McArdle. They did a duet of this song towards the end. Great voice and harmonization. 10 fingers and 10 toes up!

EVERYBODY SAYS DON'T - Andrea McArdle's solo...voice was powerful!

DANCING QUEEN - by ABBA - Lea did a snippet of this song...fun!

CARPENTERS medley - I wasn't sure how this medley would blend in, but it did. The introduction was good. Great rendition.

TRUE COLORS - Ok, this song just brought me to tears...wow! The symphonic melodic version was just amazing. Sorry Cindi Lauper.

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME - Lea accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Wow...good break for upcoming powerful songs. I thought it was a little too intimate for the venue. Still done well.

IT HAD TO BE YOU - I guess the Gershwin song above was a good intro for this song.

MARRIED - from Cabaret - awesome rendition and she talked about her marriage...great job!

HAHANAPIN KO - an original Filipino song sung in her native language (Tagalog). Symphonic, harmonious, glorious, cathedral-like and emotion-filled music flowed through the Hall. All mouths were opened, drool and all. BTW - the acoustics at Carnegie was surprisingly bad!

THE STORY GOES ON - this Hamlisch song from "Baby" was probably the best rendition bec. it was sung with the original "Baby" lead...Liz Callaway. Duet started towards the end...let me tell you....wow! Perfect song since Lea is also pregnant. Liz couldn't help but shed a tear at the end. It was that good.

I STILL BELIEVE - from Miss Saigon - both Lea and Liz just went into character as soon as the symphony introduced the notes. Amazing...we all stood up afterwards and some people with tears!!! I couldn't hear them say thank you bec. of the screams and the "bravas."

MEADOWLARK - solo from LIZ CALLAWAY - great song. Can't believe how amazing her voice is, and sounds even better now.

I'LL GIVE MY LIFE FOR YOU - Miss Saigon - great song, brings me back to the tony-award winning performance in 91.

INTERMISSION - went to the bar and people were just raving.

ACT 2 - Lea walked-in in a Carmen Marc Valvo black cocktail dress....vavavoom!

I ENJOY BEING A GIRL - from Flower Drum Song - very cute.

LOVE LOOK AWAY - from Flower Drum Song - such an emotional song...still flawless.

REFLECTION - extended version of signature song from Disney's Mulan, wow, can the next song be much better than this?

I DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM - from Jesus Christ Superstar - not a big fan of the play but, she did it quite amazingly well.

PEOPLE - from FUNNY GIRL - can't believe I heard a live version of the original Broadway orchestration never performed before until the show. Babra, can you hear her?

OLIVER! MEDLEY - WHERE IS LOVE?/AS LONG AS HE NEEDS ME- I think this is the song she sung at Ovations IV. Yes, it deserved the ovation she got at Ovations. Too bad, people at the Hall were just too mesmerized with Oliver and Nancy and forgot to stand up :)

ON MY OWN - from Les Miserables - Sniff....I was speechless. Such betrayal, stupid Marius! :) We gave her a thunderous applause.

Paolo Montalban walked in.....

A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN - from Les Miserables - great song, Paolo's voice was fine...he just didn't have the "big" presence that the other 3 ladies had. Is it me because but I didn't him connect to Lea. He must be nervous. Dang...Lea just went into character. She actually, maybe unconsciouslly, did exact blocking from the Les Miz concert. Was Paolo uneasy with that, bec. he looked like he frozed.

MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE - solo from Paolo Montalban - good voice.

POPULAR - from WICKED - I thought I was listening to Kristin...why is this girl not doing Wicked!?? It was perfect, cute, and flawless.

DEFYING GRAVITY - from Wicked - we know this song is tough to sing. She even prayed before she sang it but, she did it quite well. Tough notes but smooth chest and head voice transition. Not a pure belt at the higher octaves but still worked. Hey, what do you expect...she is pregnant and you need the abs to reach the notes, right? Overall, it deserved the thunderous standing ovation it got at the end...correction, it was an "extended" applause. I thought we were never going to stop.

1st Encore: I HONESTLY LOVE YOU from BOY FROM OZ - not bad...not a big Newton John fan here, but still a good song. I don't think this selection was good at this part of the show. How can any song top Defying Gravity anyway. She's still awesome. Maybe, Defying Gravity should have been the Encore song.

2nd Encore - A WHOLE NEW WORLD from Aladdin - a duet with an audience member, not staged or planned, he volunteered since Lea ran out of songs to sing for the encore. Not expected at all. With all due respect to Mr. Danny, the courageous student, the song was not bad. Who cannot be nervous on stage, singing the song with Lea, at Carnegie, and being recorded too!!! Good job, Danny. The Lea fans adore you now.

Do I hear a part 2 of this concert?
Did I hear a cd recording too...watch out!
Diverse City producers did a very successful job in making this happen. Victor Lirio and Liz Casasola are the best and they should pursue another concert.

Party afterwards - wow, Carmen Marc Valvo, same design but in bright fire engine red....(see Broadwayworld.com article for pics)...I thought I was in Hollywood for a big film or award bash. Lea is one flawless singer and a beautiful Broadway diva (the good diva) who should be constantly getting great projects. I recommend to all posters here to not miss any of her projects.

Concert - best I've seen at Carnegie.

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