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BWW Exclusive: Lea Salonga Will Return to Her Roots at the New York Pops Gala

On Monday, May 2, 2016, The New York Pops presents its 33rd birthday gala, celebrating the revolutionary collaborations of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, the songwriting team behind LES MISERABLES, Miss Saigon, and more. Serving as Honorary Co-Chairs for the event are musical theatre legends Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Patti LuPone.

The event begins at 7:00 PM with a concert in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, featuring a spectacular lineup of guest artists under the baton of Music Director Steven Reineke. The performance will highlight Boublil and Schönberg's tremendous four-decade partnership. Guest artists Jesse Tyler Ferguson,Montego Glover, Robert Marien, Laura Osnes, and Kyle Scatliffe join the previously announcedStephanie J. Block, Jon Jon Briones, Jeremy Jordan, Norm Lewis, Patti LuPone, Eva Noblezada, John Owen-Jones, Hugh Panaro, Lea Salonga, and Marie Zamora. The concert will also feature Judith Clurman's Essential Voices USA, as well as students from The New York Pops' Kids on Stage music education program and Camp Broadway Kids.

In anticipation of the big event, BroadwayWorld is checking in with some of the performers. Today, check out what Lea Salonga had to say...


Do you have a favorite memory from working with Alain Boublil & Claude-Michel Schönberg?

Oh goodness, there are so many! However, I think the memories that stand out aren't the older ones, but the newer ones. Back then working with them on either Miss Saigon or Les Miz (as Eponine), I was a kid. Now though, I'm an actual, full-fledged adult working with these men who seemed so grown up all those years ago.

In China, we put on a production of Do You Hear the People Sing. To say that it was quite the ordeal is putting it mildly. One way that a lot of us coped was by having a drink every single night. We all drank so much that Alain knew exactly what I would ask for once my rump hit the chair. One night he even asked, "So, Lea, would you like your gin and tonic now?"

As for Claude-Michel, it was his love for the Philippines that really sticks out, not as a specific memory but as something he always had. He adopted his daughter Margaux from the Philippines, and set up a foundation to help orphaned children which he visits at least once or twice a year.

Do you have a favorite song or moment from a Boublil & Schönberg show?

One moment that I can't ever forget was watching (from behind him on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in 1995) Philip Quast sing "Stars." To this day, although I have seen many wonderful Javerts, this actor was the embodiment of a man who followed the letter of the law and knew the nuts and bolts of it just to chase down Jean Valjean. Philip's devolution from "Stars" to his final soliloquy leading to his suicide was a master class in how to act and sing at the same time. I get chills just thinking about it!

Is there a(nother) role in a Boublil & Schönberg show that you'd like to play someday?

Oh, I don't know... I've played all the dead girls so I'm not sure what I could do next!

This year's gala will feature music students from The New York Pops' extensive education programs. What single piece of advice would you give to any young, aspiring performers?

Only pursue a career in the arts if your passion for it burns so bright and hot that nothing else matters. If this is a hobby, then enjoy it, but don't pursue it as a profession. It can be filled with heartbreak and disappointment. This isn't for you if you're sensitive to rejection and the occasional stumble and fall.

What projects do you have coming up that you can share?

As of right this minute, the only thing waiting for me once The New York Pops Gala is over is another season of The Voice Kids. It's still amazing to me how much talent there is in the Philippines, and the opportunity to mentor and mold them is a huge responsibility that none of us that works on the show takes for granted. One of my girls is now playing Little Cosette in the Manila production of Les Miz, which makes me incredibly proud. She didn't win the singing competition, but she's got a good start to a career. That's worth more to me than a trophy.


Advance benefit tickets to the concert-only range from $65 to $160 and can be purchased at www.newyorkpops.org.

Tickets will become available to the public on Monday, March 7, 2016 at 11:00 AM at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, carnegiehall.org.


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