BWW REVIEW: The SYDNEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Presents A Stunning Night Of Disney, Broadway And Re-Imagined Pop Songs with LEA SALONGA IN CONCERT
Friday 3rd February 2017, 8pm, Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Darling of stage and voice of Disney Princesses, Lea Salonga, with the help of the SYDNEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, under the baton of Gerard Salonga, brought the Sydney Opera House audience to its feet in a flawless performance. Lea Salonga IN CONCERT is a beautiful blend of concert and connection as the petite powerhouse shares her favourite music that spans musical theatre, Disney movies and fresh new interpretations of popular music.
The night includes incredible renditions of iconic musical theatre songs from Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Lin Manuel Miranda, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, Michael Legrand and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Stephen Schwartz and ABBA. Connecting with the songstress' position as a 'Disney Legend' the night also includes works from the two Princesses Salonga lent her singing voice to, plus another popular Princess that has dominated the airwaves, and the houses of any family with young girls, as Salonga has herself. Further highlighting her diversity, and breaking up the string of musical theatre, Salonga has inserted some fabulous new workings of popular music from One Direction and Cindi Lauper, artfully arranged by brother Gerard Salonga. Gerard's arrangements showcase the 50 Sydney Symphony Orchestra and his penchant for Harp allows the beautiful instrument to be heard on its own or only lightly supported, particularly in HAMILTON's Burn and LES MISERABLES' On My Own.
The performance is more than just a concert of wonderful music as Salonga infuses the songs with depth and emotion. She has an incredible control and power in her vocals which range from the most restrained pianissimo moments to swelling crescendos and sustained power and caps it all off with perfectly selected phrasing to give more weight to the underlying sentiment of the songs. She acknowledges the somewhat outdated views of I Enjoy Being A Girl and considers her elegant black sequined tuxedo as a social commentary and rebellion. She counters this with an inspiring explanation of Mulan's power and ability to save her country without a man by her side before she shares the reflective and introspective Reflection. Her expression of I'd Give My Life For You is a haunting pledge with a gravity of the knowledge of what it is to be a mother and her passion whilst her pain, hurt and anger filled Burn shares the voice of the silent victim in HAMILTON's sex scandal. Her Send In The Clowns captures the poignant pleading restraint of the unanswered questions and a resignation that the opportunity for love has passed, a challenge to convey for many performers, which Salonga hits squarely on the mark. For her selection from Aladdin, Salonga elicits assistance for A Whole New World. Thankfully she's skilled at picking the right person to invite on stage and guest Mark is surprisingly good.
Salonga shares a delightful candid enjoyment and awe of performing at the Sydney Opera House. Whilst some performers inject a patter into their performances, Salonga's is genuine, unforced and completely impromptu which is refreshing as she connects with the audience, sharing personal stories, embarrassing her younger brother and enlightening the audience with the backstories of songs. She has a lovely interaction with the audience with tinge of the delightful sassiness of a New Yorker which she would have no doubt picked up during her time on Broadway. Salonga ensures that the whole audience feels included as she sings not just to the stalls but also the boxes flanking the stage and she takes the whoops and hollers from the audience in her stride, letting the audience know that she can hear them.
Whilst the Sydney performances have sold out, Lea Salonga will be appearing in Melbourne with Orchestra Victoria. For those that may have missed out on the Sydney shows, there is still time to hop on a plane and get down to Melbourne. For Melbourne people, do not miss this.
Sydney - SOLD OUT
Hamer Hall - Arts Centre Melbourne
Tuesday 7th February 8pm and Wednesday 8th February 8pm