The Fairy Princess, continuing in her quest to bring you bring you all things ALLEGIANCE, as it heads to it’s big Broadway Opening on November 8th, has a very special treat for you now, Hunties….that’s right…five minutes with Ms. Lea Salonga!
Lest you have been living under a rock since the 1990’s, let’s break it down for you – she is the Original KIM in MISS SAIGON in both the West End and Broadway productions, for which she won THE OLIVIER AWARD and THE TONY AWARD,
she is the singing voice of Disney’s MULAN and Jasmine in ALADDIN,
she has appeared as both Eponine and Fantine in LES MISERABLES,
she headlined the Broadway revival of FLOWER DRUM SONG with the new book by David Henry Hwang,
she’s done concerts worldwide, been an mentor on THE VOICE in The Philippines, recordings, films, countless stage shows – it’s probably too endless to type out – and YET…and YET…with all of that, she still was kind enough to take a photo for TFP holding up a “Hi ____” sign, for one of TFP‘s students…in short…fancy – and nice.
So here we go –
TFP: We are sitting here with Ms. Lea Salonga to talk about ALLEGIANCE – don’t worry, the questions will be fun.
LS: Ok. (smiles)
TFP: Well, hopefully – where were you when you first heard ALLEGIANCE was going to Broadway?
LS: Crud, I can’t remember. I think I was in Manila, probably doing The Voice.
TFP: (silently giggling that Lea Salonga said “crud”) What were your thoughts when you heard the news – immediate reaction?
TFP: Right? No kidding. Who was the first person you told?
LS: (smiles) The Husband.
TFP: What is the thing, as an Asian performer, that you want the audience to take away from this show the most?
LS: There’s a lot to take away from this show – there are so many things we ‘hit’. The Japanese American Internment was such a dark part of American history. I’m hoping what people can take away from it (is) that, despite the darkness that happens, despite the rifts that take place within families, it is never too late to get a second chance at finding closure and finding happiness again.
TFP: What is the first big gift you bought yourself with your Broadway ALLEGIANCE money?
LS: The first rehearsal check I just put in the bank.
TFP: Oh, you are so Asian.
LS: (laughs) It goes into the bank, I didn’t splurge on anything. I’m waiting for big occasions like Opening Night.
TFP: I get that.
LS: I’m giving myself a video game console, probably, because there are all these cool games coming out!
LS: I want to play the new Assassin’s Creed so bad!
TFP: I did not see that coming.
LS: Then for Christmas, we’ll probably get more gadgets because…we’re Asian. (laughs)
TFP: You are totally Asian, I don’t know if you know that, but wow, yes you are!
TFP: Last question…it’s not about ALLEGIANCE per se, but it led up to ALLEGIANCE, so..it’s about MISS SAIGON…
LS: (raises eyebrow)
TFP: You know that with recent productions of MISS SAIGON, there have been protestors, there are petitions, and the are starting to get a reaction in some spots. Myself, I’m not for the protesting -my thoughts are, in theater, if you don’t want to see something, no one is forcing you to see it, don’t go.
I think if you are looking at MISS SAIGON and only see prostitution, you are completely missing the point.
LS: You are missing the point.
TFP: So I wanted to ask YOU, because no one has asked you what your thoughts are…
LS: The pickets and the demonstrations and all of the rallies taking place, that’s not anything new. I mean, I remember being in Previews at The Broadway Theater and there were demonstrators that blasted into the mezzanine, and while we were doing scenes from the show -happened to be doing DREAMLAND – which is the opening of the show, where all of the girls are in their skimpiest and we could hear people screaming from the mezz and screaming at us.
I looked up and went “What the hell is going on, I’m trying to do my job here!”
The thing is that the portrayal of the prostitutes is such a small part of the musical – it’s there to set a scene. We don’t see prostitutes for the two hours and twenty minutes that the show is going on. We see where this girl comes from, we see where this guy comes from. And then we have to be invested in what happens to these two – that’s really it. Yes, there are prostitutes but they are there for what, 10 min?
TFP: I agree, and the fact is, we do not see German people out protesting CABARET, we do not see French people out protesting LES MISERABLES, or GIGI, or English people out protesting OLIVER…
LS: Right. You see “Lovely Ladies” (from LES MISERABLES) and what do you think they are? Just because they happen to be Asian Prostitutes? You’re protesting? If you are going to protest prostitution, then you have to protest things like THE LIFE.
TFP: YES! That is what I said!
LS: You have to protest other shows that portray that – ummm SWEET CHARITY. You have to keep going…so if you are going to protest one, you have to protest everything else… If it’s a generalizing this ‘looking down on the portrayal of women‘, then you have to go to each and every show that portrays prostitution then and protest that.
Because if you are focusing on the Asian prostitutes, ok – what makes the Asian prostitutes different from the Western?
The oldest profession is the oldest profession, no matter where it is performed.
LS: You have to see the forest for the trees, and some people just don’t.
TFP: Thank you, Ms. Lea Salonga – and there you have it!
Library is closed, we can all go home now – Break Legs on Opening Night and here is to a long and successful run.