If there was an official headliner of this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Lea Salonga would be it. The queen of musical theatre, creating the role of Kim in Miss Saigon and the voice to some of the best Disney features, including Aladdin and Mulan. She’s won Olivier and Tony Awards and her bell-like voice graced the Festival Theatre stage in an “intimate” (as intimate as 2,000+ people can get) performance.
More a concert, or large-scale cabaret show, Salonga took the audience through a myriad of songs from her life, her career and others that she “just likes”. It is Salonga’s beautiful voice that really holds this performance together. Her vocal control, her clear tones and her passion for the music are what makes Salonga a musical theatre superstar.
Everyone took a little while to warm up… although Salonga’s warmth was evident, it took until the second act to really see the engagement between performer and audience. The act one finale, ‘I’d Give My Life for You’ set the tone demonstrating Salonga’s deep connection to this production for which she is so well known.
A major highlight of the night was the duet of ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin including a special appearance by random audience member, Ian. Thankfully, Ian was a tuneful singer (and even knew the harmonies)… I hate to think what it’s like when the audience member is tone deaf!
Another favourite moment was ‘For Good’ and ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked which really defined Salonga as a powerhouse singer and demonstrates her ability to sit with the big leagues (no pressure Eden Espinoza). Her tribute to Barbara Streisand and a simplistic rendition of ‘Moon River’ also added to the gorgeous set list that made every music-theatre-nerd in the audience giggle with excitement.
Ably supported by the hard-working and beautiful Adelaide Art Orchestra, an evening of beauty, a fondness for musical theatre and sharing time with a stunning performer was one of the real treats of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival that far exceeded expectations.
Lea Salonga performed at the 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 9 — 10 June
For more information, visit www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au