Musical theatre royalty, Lea Salonga literally grew up on the stage and was thrust into international stardom at 17, when Sir Cameron Macintosh discovered her in his worldwide search for the leading role of Kim in the original production of Miss Saigon. She went on to win both Olivier and Tony Awards for her portrayal of Kim and a star was born.
Also recognised as the singing voice of Disney’s Princess Jasmine (eep!) from Aladdin and Fa Mulan for Mulan and Mulan II it’s no doubt that this superstar is a highly anticipated performer in the 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival… she gave us some insight into her life just days before landing in Adelaide.
1. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Can you believe, at one point I wanted to be a psychiatrist? I don’t really remember wanting to be a performer, perhaps because at that point I already was. It wasn’t something I aspired to be, because I already was one.
2. Who is the most important person in the world to you?
That would require a list: my husband Rob, daughter Nic, mum Joy, brother Gerard, plus a slew of friends and other family members that I couldn’t ever live without.
3. What animal best represents you and why?
I don’t know… but whatever it is, it would have to be adaptable and relatively calm and relaxed. Stress wouldn’t bother it very much, and it would be focused. And happy!
4. If you were a contestant on Deal or No Deal, how much would you need to be on offer before you walked away?
At least US $25,000.
5. What was the first piece of theatre/film/TV you ever appeared in and how old were you?
I was 7 years old, in The King and I.
6. Windows or MAC?
Like that’s even a question?! Mac, of course!!!
7. Favourite food?
Oh I love everything. I don’t discriminate.
8. Who is the actor you would most like to work alongside?
If I could work for 5 minutes with Hugh Jackman, my life would be made. I love Aussie actors… great work ethic, level of talent, and sense of humour!
9. What five songs would be the first you put a mix tape?
Oh goodness! I don’t have a song list, but I do have an artist list: Maroon 5, The Kings of Leon, David Benoit, CeeLo Green, Bruno Mars, Adele, and Amy Winehouse.
10. What is the best thing about being a theatre performer?
Pretending to be a totally different person for a few hours and singing some incredible music.
11. What’s the worst thing about being a theatre performer?
Injuries. I’ve performed with a pulled groin, sprained ankle, sore muscles, laryngitis, and tonsillitis.
12. Name one moment when you looked around, breathed happily and felt content.
Must have been a late night when I saw my husband and daughter sleeping and snoring. Life is really, really good when the ones you love are at peace.
13. Where is the most interesting place you have travelled?
China. It isn’t what one immediately thinks of it.
14. Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?
Julie Andrews, I think. She certainly is famous in the circles I travel. (Hayley Horton: says one musical legend about another!)
15. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you onstage?
I’ve had a few wardrobe malfunctions… thank goodness for stage partners that have my back. And in one case, literally.
16. What’s your life motto?
Never settle for mediocre. Good enough is never good enough.
17. What’s your favourite post-show snack?
I usually aim for post-show meals, and I love anything hearty and filling, even though it isn’t always good for me.
18. What’s your biggest phobia?
Snakes, rats, large spiders. Anything close to the ground and creepy looking.
19. What are you most looking forward to about visiting Australia?
The winter weather! It’s been quite hot in Manila, and I’m looking for a reprieve.
20. What are you most looking forward to about the 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival?
Being able to see shows and cheer for some amazing performances.
Lea Salonga is performing at the 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival on June 9 and 10 at 8pm. Visit www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au for more details.