Photo: Broadway star Lea Salonga is visiting BYU for two performances and a workshop with music, dance and theatre students
Photo courtesy of University Communications
by Preston Wittwer
Students may not recognize her name, but if they watched a Disney princess movie from the ’90s they will surely recognize her voice. Lea Salonga, the Disney artist who provided the singing voices for Jasmine and Mulan in “Aladdin” and “Mulan,” will perform twice in the upcoming week on BYU campus through the Performing Arts Series.
Salonga, a Tony awarding winning star, will perform a mixture of Broadway tunes and other popular music on Friday and Wednesday. The first of her two scheduled performances at the de Jong Concert Hall has already sold out, but tickets for the Wednesday performance are still available through the Fine Arts Ticket Office.
The Performing Arts Series seeks to bring top professionals from different career fields and genres to BYU to perform and, when possible, work with the students. Jeff Martin, in charge of scheduling participants for the series, said Salonga has been on their wish list for years.
“She has great Broadway credit and her career experience is excellent for our students,” Martin said. “She’s a good role model for those pursuing a similar career.”
Salonga is famous for originating the role of Kim in “Miss Saigon” which started in London and soon moved to Broadway, giving her an opportunity to win almost every major acting award for the role, including a Tony and Olivier award, according to BYUarts.com.
Those familiar with the musical “Les Miserables” would recognize Salonga from her roles in the 10th and 25th anniversary concert casts. In the 10th anniversary cast she played the character or Eponine, and last summer she performed the role of Fantine in the 25th anniversary concert at London’s O2 Arena.
In addition to her performances, Salonga is scheduled to teach a two-hour master class today exclusively for the advanced music, dance and theatre (MDT) students.
“That is what this series tries to do,” Martin said. “To connect students studying in that same field with experienced professionals.”
Rodger Sorensen, a professor in the Theatre and Media Arts Department, said the students who get to participate in her class are exceptionally fortunate — not only to meet someone famous, but to learn from a seasoned professional.
“They are lucky not just for her talents and entertainment value, but because of her history, background and capacity, including her educational and spiritual values as well,” Sorensen said. “She’s so personable, and she brings that to her performance.”
The MDT students aren’t the only ones excited for Salonga’s visit. There are others who have been looking forward to this concert for months. Jenna Perry, a senior from Phoenix, Ariz., majoring in humanities, bought her tickets at midnight the first day they went on sale.
“Her beautiful voice has had a major impact on my life,” Perry said. “She was really the reason I first fell in love with ‘Les Mis,’ which led me to learn more about the French language and culture which led to making French my minor.”
Martin said he hopes students will recognize the incredible opportunity they have and encouraged everyone to attend.
“It is a rare opportunity to see a living legend right here on campus,” he said.