Stagecraft Podcast: Lea Salonga Talks Broadway, Her New Album and Getting ‘Hit in the Gut’

Lea Salonga wants to get “hit in the gut.”

That’s what gets her to Broadway, the busy international performer says in the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “I think I just have to get hit in the gut,” she explains of the projects that get her back to New York, where she first became a fan favorite as the original Kim in “Miss Saigon.” “If there’s something important that the show is trying to say, then I feel like I’m compelled to be a part of it. It’s not just, ‘Oh I love the music; oh, I love the score.’ There has to be something deeper.”

That certainly applies to her current Broadway project, the well-reviewed revival of “Once on This Island” — “It’s about people’s resilience. It’s about rebuilding. I come from an island nation,” notes Salonga, who was born in the Philippines and still calls it home. “Allegiance,” the 2015 show that was her most recent Broadway credit before “Once on This Island,” also got her in the gut for very personal reasons.

Salonga goes on to talk about her new album, “Bahaghari,” a collection of newly orchestrated folk-song classics from the Philippines. She sings in some half-dozen different languages on the record.

Popular on Variety

“The only thing that I’m really hoping is that school teachers get their hands on it so that they’re able to play it for their kids in class,” she says of the album. “And for school kids outside of the Philippines, just to give it a listen and see what music means to someone else from another part of the world.”

Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or SoundCloud.

More Legit

  • Protesters demonstrate at the Broadway opening

    'West Side Story' Broadway Opening Night Sparks Protests

    Roughly 100 protestors gathered outside the Broadway premiere of “West Side Story” on Thursday night, carrying placards and chanting in unison to demand the removal of cast member Amar Ramasar. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ramasar has got to go,” they cried while holding signs that read “Keep predators off the stage,” “Sexual predators shouldn’t get [...]

  • West Side Story review

    'West Side Story': Theater Review

    Whittled down to one hour and forty-five minutes, “West Side Story” – with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins — has grown exceedingly dark and mislaid some of its moving parts in the new Broadway revival from edgy Belgian director Ivo Van Hove. (Can [...]

  • The Inheritance review

    'The Inheritance' Closing in March After Box Office Struggles

    “The Inheritance,” a sprawling and ambitious epic that grappled with the legacy of the AIDS epidemic, will close on March 15. The two-part play has struggled mightily at the box office despite receiving strong reviews. Last week, it grossed $345,984, or 52% of its capacity, a dispiriting number for a show that was reported to [...]

  • MCC theater presents 'Alice By Heart'

    Steven Sater on Adapting 'Alice by Heart' From a Musical to a Book

    When producers approached lyricist Steven Sater (“Spring Awakening”) to adapt Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” into a musical, his initial reaction was to recoil. His initial thought was that the book didn’t have a beginning, middle and an ending. But Sater pulled it off with his production of “Alice By Heart.” After an off-Broadway [...]

  • The Lehman Trilogy review

    Sam Mendes' 'Lehman Trilogy' Kicks off Ahmanson's New Season

    Sam Mendes’ “The Lehman Trilogy,” which took London’s West End by storm will be part of the Ahmanson’s lineup for the 2020-21 season. It will be joined by Broadway hits “Hadestown” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Artistic director Michael Ritchie announced the season that will also feature four fan favorites and another production to be [...]

  • Zoe Caldwell Dead

    Zoe Caldwell, Four-Time Tony Winner, Dies at 86

    Zoe Caldwell, an Australian actress with a talent for illuminating the human side of imposing icons such as Cleopatra and Maria Callas in a career that netted her four Tony Awards, died on Sunday due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to her son Charlie Whitehead. She was 86. Caldwell occasionally appeared in television and [...]

  • Cambodian Rock Band interview

    Listen: How 'Cambodian Rock Band' Became One of the Most Produced Plays in the U.S.

    One of the hottest trends in American theater this season is Cambodian surf rock from the 1970s — and that’s thanks to “Cambodian Rock Band.” Listen to this week’s Stagecraft podcast below: Playwright Lauren Yee’s genre-bending stage show, part family drama and part rock concert, has become one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. this season. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content