Top 5 Times We Fell in Love with Lea Salonga

 

Just about everyone seems excited for Lea Salonga’s return to Broadway alongside George Takei and Telly Leung in the new musical Allegiance. The musical, which was inspired by Takei’s actual childhood experiences, premiered in 2012 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Much to the excitement of fans, Allegiance is now set to open on Broadway by November 2015, with previews as early as October 2015.

If you’re unfamiliar with the breathtaking talent of Lea Salonga, then today’s your lucky day! We’ve rounded up five of the many, many moments we fell in love with Salonga to give you a brief glimpse into why she has so many loyal fans.

 


 

1) A Disney Legend
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t mention Disney when they talk about Lea Salonga’s achievements. In 2011, Salonga was honored as a Disney Legend and for good reason! Not only did she perform at the grand opening of Hong Kong’s Disneyland and help voice Mrs. Kusakabe in Disney’s English dub of My Neighbor Totoro, she is also famously known as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin and as Mulan in Disney’s Mulan. So the next time you sing along to “A Whole New World” and “Reflection,” remember that the powerful voice belongs to Salonga.

 


 

2) On Stage
In 1989, Salonga was cast as the lead role in the musical “Miss Saigon.” This quickly catapulted her into fame as she won the Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Theatre World award for the same role. She then went on the being the very first Asian cast as Eponine in “Les Misérables” and later as the character Fantine. She spoke to Rappler of her fond memories of the production saying, “For me, having performed in the two anniversary concerts was the most amazing experience ever. Sitting and working amongst some of the most amazing talent assembled felt like a dream, and I wasn’t entirely sure I belonged in this group. But it was amazing celebrating the show with many thousands of people [who] loved it as much as I did, or even more so.”

 


 

3) Breaking Records by Making Records
Needless to say, Salonga has received endless praise from the Filipino community. She made the Philippines especially proud by breaking a number of records. For instance, in 1993, Salonga became the first Filipino artist to sign on to an international label, Atlantic Records. She is also the very first Filipino artist to receive a major album release and distribution deal in the United States.

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Photo courtesy of YouTube

 


 

4) Humanitarian Work
On October 15, 2010, Salonga was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The FAO Goodwill Ambassadors Programme was created to try and raise public awareness on issues relating to hunger and poverty. “It’s an incredible honor, but it’s also a great challenge,” Salonga said of being a Goodwill Ambassador during an interview. “I’m from the Philippines and there are millions of people who are hungry and who are poor and the issue of poverty in my country is so great. Hopefully, people back home will turn their attention to this campaign and to what FAO is trying to do.”

Photo courtesy of www.broadwayworld.com

Photo courtesy of www.broadwayworld.com

 


 

5) Her Inspiring Story
Okay, so it’s obvious that Lea Salonga is talented, but what about her as a person? Watch just a few interviews with Salonga and you will not only be a fan of her singing, you will also be a fan of her personality and her story. At 17, Salonga was a pre-med student, but things took an instant turn when she nailed the audition for the lead role in “Miss Saigon” after singing “On My Own” during her– a song from “Les Misérables” that she would go on to sing on the Broadway stage.

 

Feature image courtesy of www.interaksyon.com

From Disney to Broadway: Vanessa Hudgens Stars in Broadway Musical ‘Gigi’

 

Vanessa Hudgens will sing and dance her way into the hearts of viewers once again. But this time, it won’t be a high school musical. Much to the excitement of her fans, Hudgens announced last fall that she would be starring in the Broadway adaptation of Gigi. Finally, it’s here.

 

A behind the scenes look of Vanessa rehearsing for "Gigi."

A behind the scenes look of Vanessa rehearsing for “Gigi.”

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Photo courtesy of US Magazine

gigi

Photo courtesy of US Magazine


Hudgens, who is best known for her role as Gabriella Montez in Disney’s High School Musical, is taking a step outside mainstream Hollywood and entering an entirely different world by portraying a young French girl in the early 1900s. This seems to spark controversy and dislike among longtime Gigi fans because of Vanessa’s ethnicity. However, the Filipino-American actress won’t let negativity dull her excitement.

In the behind the scenes video below, Hudgens says Gigi “sits so deeply in who I am.”

 

 

Based on the 1944 novel by the late French writer, Colette, the story focuses on Gigi, a young girl from Paris who is trying to discover her true self. She becomes a courtesan while experiencing a blossoming relationship with a wealthy man named Gaston.

Gigi opens Friday, January 16 at the Kennedy Center.

Feature image courtesy of Gigi on Broadway’s Facebook page.

Top 5 Reasons We Love Darren Criss

Darren Criss has only been in television’s spotlight for a handful of years, but he has already managed to gather an incredible amount of dedicated fans. On twitter alone, his account has an impressive 1.7 million followers. It doesn’t take much to see that Criss is beloved by many.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 27-year-old actor, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 reasons we love Darren Criss. See if you end up falling in love with him after reading them all.

 


 

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1. He’s Harry Potter.

Well… not exactly, but he certainly does a great job of portraying a comedic Harry Potter on stage. In 2009, Darren Criss co-founded a Chicago-based musical theatre company called StarKid Productions. That same year, Criss played Harry Potter in the StarKid production “A Very Potter Musical” and began gathering attention for himself. The hilarious musical was put on YouTube and became a viral video. The musical was so popular that they created two more installments. Even before hitting television screens, Criss already showed us his humor, charm, talent and stage presence.

 


 


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2. He’s Blaine.

Darren Criss is most known for his character Blaine Anderson on the popular Fox musical comedy-drama series Glee. Following his success with StarKid Productions, he was casted as the charming gay high school student. The chemistry between Blaine and another character named Kurt Hummel gained a large fan support and their relationship was named, “one of the most beloved TV couples of the millennium” by  the New York Post. Additionally, they were named Favorite TV Couple at the 2010 AfterElton.com Visibility Awards, and Entertainment Weekly claims that the boys have been “leading the way” in representing the gay community on television.

 


 

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3. He’s talented.
As you can probably tell from his work, Darren Criss is an awfully talented fellow. He began playing the violin at the age of 5 and was classically trained for 15 years. Of course, he didn’t stop there. He also taught himself how to play the guitar, piano, mandolin, harmonica and drums. By the age of ten, he began joining theater groups and theater companies. By 15, Criss began composing songs. He made his television debut in 2009 on Eastwick, his Broadway debut in 2012 in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and his film debut later that year in Girl Most Likely.

 

 


 


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4. He’s Filipino-American.
And he’s extremely proud of his roots. His mother is a native of Cebu, Philippines and went to live in America in hopes of better circumstances for her children. Criss admits that while his childhood was not too immersed in the culture, he has been to the Philippines numerous times and has a “bizarre kinship” with the country. “As soon as I got off the plane, I was like, ‘Ah, this is me back in the Philippines.” I love this place. Whatever Filipino blood [I have in me] is very happy to be here.” he said in an interview.

 


 


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5. He has a big heart.
Possibly one of the biggest reasons Criss has such a large fanbase is because he seems to be a genuinely good person. Following the massive Typhoon that hit the Philippines, Criss launched a campaign to encourage donations. His statement said, “My mother was born & raised there, and as a result I have always been proud of my Filipino heritage, as well as lucky enough to feel the tremendous support of the Filipino community throughout my life as an artist.” Criss is an active supporter of The Trevor Project which focuses on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. His work with this organization gained him Variety’s Power of Youth Philanthropy award.

 


 

Bonus: He’s Hot.

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Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Now On Broadway

Story by Taylor Weik. 

It’s finally time for everyone’s favorite thief to take his turn under the flashing bulbs of Broadway. Disney’s Aladdin, the musical adaption of the 1992 Walt Disney film, officially debuts at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre on March 20. The musical features an all-star creative team, including Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon), with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by the late Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin.

Of the 34-member cast, the two leads are both Asian American. Playing the title role of Aladdin is Adam Jacobs, whose mother is Filipina (Jacobs portrayed Marius in the 2006 Broadway revival of Les Misérables), and biracial Thai American Courtney Reed, whose credits include In the Heights and Mamma Mia!, will play Princess Jasmine.

“It doesn’t feel real,” says Reed about the role. “She has always been my favorite Disney princess, and now I get to bring her to life. It’s a dream come true.”

The musical comedy promises a full score with brand new songs, though Disney fans can rest assured that five of them will be from the original film. “It may be cliché but ‘A Whole New World’ is just a classic,” says Reed. “The arrangement for the show is gorgeous, and I love singing with my co-star Adam.” The production will also introduce new characters, specifically Babkak, Kassim and Omar, Aladdin’s three sidekicks.

Even the classic Disney characters will have some new lines to work with. “In expanding the story for Broadway, we’ve been able to add a little more depth to [Jasmine], and she’s a bit more modern than you may remember her from the movie, so the audience will get a chance to see a more dimensional Jasmine,” says Reed. “I just have to trust myself and my director to stay true to the essence of the princess I watched on my screen every day growing up!”

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here.