Influences: Broadway star and Tony winner Lea Salonga
When Lea Salonga won the Tony Award in 1991 for "Miss Saigon," she was a 20-year-old rising star who had all of Broadway at her feet. Salonga recently turned 40, and the years haven't diminished the importance of the hit musical in her career.
"It's a legacy that keeps on going," she said in a recent interview. "It's a great feeling, but it makes me feel sad that a lot of the songs [from the show] aren't performed in concert as much as 'Wicked' or other musicals."
Salonga added that she has "seen a lot of actors fail" in revivals of "Miss Saigon." "They over-enunciate," she said. "I'm of the school of thought that if you're a stronger actor, it makes up for a whole lot."
Salonga flew into Los Angeles on Sunday from the Philippines, where she lives with her husband and 4-year-old daughter. On Saturday, she will perform a recital at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The actress said the concert will feature a mix of musical theater numbers, pop music and at least one Filipino song.
She said motherhood and living abroad have occupied much of her time in recent years. But she's still working on various projects, including a new musical called "Allegiance" and a recording of her recent appearances at the Carlyle in New York.
Salonga discussed some of the artists who have influenced her throughout her career.
Elaine Paige: She's not the most familiar singer to American audiences. I love the way she sang "Evita," just the timbre of her voice -- it's not heavy. Even when it gets dramatic, there’s a cutting quality to it that makes it clear. It has a timeless quality -- even when I listen to her from the '70s or '80s.
Karen Carpenter: She could cut down to the essence of a lyric. It's not just about vocal calisthenics, it's about being simple and clear. When I listen to a lot of singers today, I feel like an 80-year-old grandma -- what did that person say? A lot of lyrics become unintelligible.
Nicholas Hytner: When we did "Miss Saigon" together, he knew what to get out of each and everyone of us, even if it meant calling you in to the company office and giving you a talk.
Jodie Foster: I love watching her. I don't know how many times I've seen "The Silence of the Lambs." Her style is really simple and direct.
-- David Ng
Photo: Lea Salonga. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times