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BWW Review: LEA SALONGA at The Music Center at Strathmore

A perfect evening of music.

BWW Review: LEA SALONGA at The Music Center at Strathmore
Lea Salonga. Photo by Geoff Ford.

There are very few times in a reviewer's career where he/she can honestly say they saw a perfect performance. This past weekend at The Music Center at Strathmore international star of stage, screen, and the concert stage Lea Salonga gave a perfect performance. Her Dream Again Tour has a song list that's so well constructed it's as if they had been planning it for over two years....oh wait!!! Seriously though, Salonga's mix of pop, showtunes and of course, film songs made for a totally wonderful evening of music.

Right out of the box we started with an overture of Ms. Salonga's signature tunes. Her four-piece band consisted of Larry Yurman (Music Director/Piano), Paul Viapiano (Guitars), Kevin Axt (Basses), and Ray Brinker (Drums). It's fantastic when a band knows how to groove and let loose and then when the singer takes the stage knows how to just accompany and not pull focus. Kudos to this ensemble for finding that balance.

It would be almost impossible to choose any one song that stands out from this concert as being the best but a good candidate is definitely "Written in Stone" which was written by Stephen Schwartz for Disney's Mulan. Had Schwartz not been fired off that film because of his desire to score The Prince of Egypt the songs I think would have been different in tone. I love the fact that Salonga included this song as the more obscure stuff always interests me.

Another highlight was definitely Salonga's tribute to Stephen Sondheim. Larry Yurman's arrangement combined "Move On" from Sunday in The Park with George and "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd and trust me, it was definitely fitting and moving to hear Salonga sing some of the greatest lyrics ever written for the stage.

The past few years has been hard on all of us but our first responders have possibly had it the worst. Salonga's poignant rendition of "Bring Him Home" from Les Misérables paid tribute to the true heroes of this pandemic.

We can't forget that Lea Salonga's Broadway career is way more than Miss Saigon and hearing her sing "Waiting for Life to Begin" from Once on This Island showed off her vocal versatility.

There was of course the medley of Salonga's greatest hits which featured songs from Aladdin, Miss Saigon, and more. Being the theatre geek completist that I am, I did miss hearing a song from Allegiance and one from Flower Drum Song as well. I understand I am not the general public though and Salonga definitely did not disappoint her audience.

I however was disappointed by the behavior of some of the audience members. Maybe it's just because I was taught that you go to the theatre and pay attention but people posting on Instagram during the show, was totally disrespectful to Ms. Salonga and company. And for God sakes, don't drop things while Ms. Salonga is singing. She had no choice but to acknowledge it during the concert and did not look amused.

The superb arrangements for the evening were provided by Larry Yurman, Gerard Salonga (yep Lea's brother) and others. That's what I call some fine writing.

Bad behavior not withstanding Lea Salonga's Dream Again tour was one of those once in a lifetime events that should be witnessed by all given the chance. Thankfully my wife and I were given that chance.

Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes with one intermission.

Lea Salonga was a one-night only event at The Music Center at Strathmore on April 23rd, 2022.

For upcoming tour dates for Ms. Salonga, click here.

For upcoming events at Strathmore, click here.

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