By Virginia Balanon
With a standing-ovation welcome and resounding cheers from the audience, Lea Salonga’s opening song “Feeling Good” (from The Roar of the Greasepaint-Smell of the Crowd) aptly captured the atmosphere in the full-packed Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall the moment the one and only Lea Salonga appeared on stage on the evening of 8 February for the last day of her Melbourne concert.
After her successful debut concert at the iconic Sydney Opera House and sold-out Melbourne concert, no doubt, Lea Salonga is one of the most brilliant artists in the world and for us Filipinos, a true national treasure.
The multi-awarded singer and Disney princess, true to her promise of a magical evening, presented one of Melbourne’s most memorable and wonderful musical events, with her incredible performance and fantastic repertoire of Broadway songs, Disney classics and modern pop songs rendering her own artistic interpretation, which one could only describe as engaging, moving and unreal! The entire musical experience was paralysing, in a very good, pleasurable way. Her powerful voice, phenomenal gift of storytelling, her exceptional wit and irresistible charm all combined, left the audience frozen in awe.
The Broadway superstar performing on centre stage, with the fantastic Orchestra Victoria conducted by her “lucky charm” brother, a multi-awarded conductor and composer himself, Gerard Salonga, was a vision of pure talent, musical ingenuity, passion and inspiration. The whole event was mind-blowing. From her first song to the last, the renditions were unbelievable; providing a totally different musical experience and creating a new emotional connection.
During the night, there was no escaping Salonga’s, or should I say, the Salongas’ magical spell. What the crowd witnessed was a perfect example of, not only a strong sibling bond but also an extraordinary artistic collaboration. It was such a heart-warming scene with the siblings both performing, “back- to- back”, as if one could put a caption on it and say, “Bro… Sis… This, together, is our moment.” Every wave of Gerard’s baton and Lea’s every note create a beautiful melody and depict a touching connection between the two, strengthened by love, trust and respect.
“What a journey it has been…,” these are words from Salonga’s original song The Journey, capturing the brilliant Filipino artist’s life and career. “Forward always forward, onwards always up…” has been how she’s travelled through life. With her gift of music, strong sense of discipline, professional maturity and her positive spirit, no wonder, this theatre icon is highly regarded and world renowned.