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Lea Salonga Blogs on BroadwayWorld: First Night

March 17
12:29 PM 2010

Lea Salonga Blogs on BroadwayWorld: First Night

Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon) comes to the Café Carlyle to make her New York cabaret debut in an exclusive three-week engagement. "The Journey So Far" began performances on Tuesday, March 9 and plays through Saturday, March 27.

Leading up to and through her run, Lea Salonga will be blogging for BroadwayWorld.com!

For reservations please call 212-744-1600. For additional information please visit www.thecarlyle.com.

March 9, 2010 was my first night at the hallowEd Halls of the Carlyle. And it was one of the most amazing nights of my life, ever.

All of us had been rehearsing for nearly two weeks without a day off. For two weeks we went through all the music, put together patter, had script meetings, and just ran the show over and over again. Ripley-Grier rehearsal studios became my home for the fortnight; I have no idea how many cups of butternut apple soup I had! (By the way, if ever you find yourself there, you have to get a roll with your cup of soup. Jerry, the guy at the cafe calls it a "little bit of heaven".)

For the most part I was housed in studio 16H... then we started playing musical chairs with the studios, as that place books really quickly. We've seen the interiors of most of the other studios, including one on the 10th floor. I've also been able to see quite a few friends and former co-workers moseying around the halls! We've had a few impromptu reunions on the premises, which made me really happy.

The final three rehearsals were in front of test audiences... since there was a lot of comedy written into the script, we needed to see where the laughs would fall. All of us invited a few friends to each rehearsal, including workmates from the revival of Les Miz and the Asian tour of Cinderella. I held a poker night in my suite with my Les Miz poker group, to calm my nerves and have a little fun.

Fast forward to opening night. I had chosen the turquoise Andrew Gn number to wear for this special evening, as I would be performing in front of audience of good friends (including one of my bridesmaids and "gay of honor" Victor Lirio, artistic director of Diverse City Theatre Company). I wanted to look (and feel) like a princess. The Jimmy Choo sandals were a big help, too.

My make-up artist Yuko Takahashi arrived at my suite at around 6:15. While she set up, I took a quick shower to clear my head and freshen up, then warmed up as she was fixing my face and hair. A half hour before the show, Dan, Diana and Larry came up to wish me luck and to tell me that there was a lot of love in the room. I then went back to getting ready, and felt the butterflies in my belly begin to flutter... hoooh boy, it's another opening night.

The show itself went like a blur. I messed up on a couple of things, but no matter! I did feel the love from everyone watching, and it was amazing!

Afterwards was an impromptu photo session in the lobby with the celebrities in attendance: Sandy Duncan, Rebecca Luker, Andrea McArdle, Leslie Uggams, Jose Llana and Paolo Montalban, who came with his mother Vivian. I then headed up to my suite, hung up my dress, got into my jammies and iced my foot (I had injured it in Manila previous to my arrival in New York). My friends then came upstairs and hung out for a bit.

So... how did my cabaret's opening night go? I don't think I could have asked for a better one, because of all the love in the room.

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Lea Salonga Lea Salonga is a Filipina singer and actress who is best known for her musical role in Miss Saigon. In the field of musical theatre, she is recognized for having won the Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and Theatre World Awards. She was also the first Asian to play Eponine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway. Salonga is the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin and Fa Mulan for Mulan and Mulan II.

She began her career as a child star in the Philippines, making her professional debut in 1978 at the age of seven in the musical The King and I. She went on to star in productions of Annie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Fiddler on the Roof, The Rose Tattoo, The Sound of Music, The Goodbye Girl, Paper Moon, and The Fantasticks. She began her recording career at the age of ten with her first album, "Small Voice," which received a gold certification. Her second album, "Lea", was released in 1988.

In addition to performing in musical theater and recordings, Salonga hosted her own musical television show, "Love, Lea," and also opened for international acts such as Menudo and Stevie Wonder. Salonga's big breakthrough came when she was selected to play Kim in the megahit musical Miss Saigon in 1989. For her performance as Kim, Salonga won the Olivier for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical for the 1989/1990 season. From its original London home, Miss Saigon moved to Broadway in April 1991. Salonga subsequently garnered the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and the Theatre World Awards for the same role.

In 1999, she was invited back to London to close the musical, and in 2001, at the age of 29 and after doing the Manila run of the musical, Salonga returned to Broadway to close the Broadway production. Upon completion of her initial stint as Kim on Broadway, Salonga played the role of street waif Eponine in the Broadway production of Les Misérables.

After Miss Saigon's closing on Broadway in 2001, Salonga recreated the role of Lien Hughes originally played by Ming-Na Wen in the soap opera "As The World Turns." (After completing her contract that year, she was asked to return to the role in 2003.) She also guested on Russell Watson's "The Voice" concert, narrated for the television special "My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States," and appeared on the Christmas episode of the TV medical drama "E.R.," playing the role of a patient with lymphoma.

In 2002, Salonga returned to Broadway to play the role of a Chinese immigrant in a reinterpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song opposite Jose Llana. This was after the reinvented musical had a very successful run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2001 with Salonga playing the lead role and with the show garnering multiple wins and nominations, including Lead Actress in a Musical for Salonga, from the Theatre Los Angeles Ovation Awards. The Salonga-led Broadway revival cast album was also a top contender at the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Musical Show Album.

In 2005, Salonga played her first US concert tour in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlantic City, and Chicago. Concert dates in Washington, D.C. and Norfolk, Virginia followed. Later that year, Salonga performed with a 26-piece ensemble to a sold-out crowd at the Isaac Stern Hall in Carnegie Hall for the benefit of Diverse City Theater Company.

In her 30-year career, Salonga has performed for five Philippine presidents (from Ferdinand Marcos to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), three American Presidents (George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush), and for Diana, Princess of Wales and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Please visit www.leasalonga.com.