All The Times Lea Salonga Made Us Proud At The Tonys
When the goddess of love sings, you listen. And we all did when Lea Salonga returned to the 72nd Tony Awards to perform as the love deity Erzulie, alongside her co-actors who make up the Broadway cast of "Once On This Island."
Directed by Michael Arden, this revival of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's musical was nominated eight times at Monday night’s ceremonies and bagged the award for Best Revival of a Musical.
Right before she performed at the event, Lea shared on Twitter:
I've been on the @TheTonyAwards stage a total of 3 times: first, to receive my Tony, second to perform in the opening number, and third to present. At this fourth time, I will be performing with the rest of the @OnceIslandBway cast. 1/— Lea Salonga (@MsLeaSalonga) June 9, 2018
But, what makes this fourth time special is that this is the first time I'll actually be on the Tony stage with my cast representing our Tony-nominated show! 2/— Lea Salonga (@MsLeaSalonga) June 9, 2018
I wasn't on stage performing with the company of Miss Saigon in 1991, and the other shows I was in the original casts of weren't nominated. And I was a replacement in Les Miz, twice. So tomorrow will be very, very special. #FirstTimeForEverything 3/— Lea Salonga (@MsLeaSalonga) June 9, 2018
Her first time at the Tonys was a milestone for the Filipino performing arts community as she won the award for Best Actress in a Musical for her 1991 breakout role as Kim in Miss Saigon. She also fondly recalls it as her “OH MY GOD!” moment.
Wearing a tailored Inno Sotto, Lea thanked the Miss Saigon team of Cameron Macintosh, Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schonberg, her co-actors, and—this would draw a few laughs from the audience—the US Actor’s Equity for allowing her to perform in the Broadway stage following a bit of a struggle. She was with her mom who sat in the mezzanine and her brother who sat beside her near the stage.
Her second time at the Tonys, Lea performed "I Enjoy Being a Girl" with Harry Connick Jr., Michele Lee, and Peter Gallagher in the opening act of the 56th edition of the stage honors in 2002. The performance was in honor of American composer Richard Rodgers’ 100th anniversary.
Her third time at the Tonys happened last year, when she, in short hair and glittering jacket, presented “Miss Saigon” as one of the nominees for Best Revival of a Musical. She shared the stage with co-Miss Saigon alum Jonjon Briones and they introduced the Broadway cast including the new Kim, Eva Nobelezeda.
She had two main reasons for attending the 71st Tonys: to be a presenter and to take lots of selfies with the stars
Indeed, she only needs to step onto the stage, or get her face caught by the cameras, and we would be cheering her on. But of course, she does more than just sashay to the microphone.
For her role in this year’s performance of "Once On This Island," she talked about the diversity within the cast.
“I’m the only full Asian in the company,” she shared.
“My number one concern was this: what will the African-American community think about this Asian girl? Is there going to be cultural appropriation? How is this Asian woman getting on this island? Those were my three concerns, and then Michael Arden immediately blew them out of the water."
Last night’s performance at the Tonys have been called “amazing” and “legendary.” Like Lea predicted, it did become “very, very special.”
Photos from ABS-CBN News