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Date TimeJuly 23, 2019
VoicePalladium, LondonThe voice of Miss Saigon and Princess Jasmine controls the audience as finely as the vibrato in her expressive vocals
Lea Salonga review – musicals star evokes whole new world of stories
Musical-theatre singers are in an odd position: they need to be distinctive but not too distinctive, powerful but not eccentric. The Filipina singer Lea Salonga has been striking this balance perfectly on Broadway and West End stages since starring in Miss Saigon 30 years ago, aged only 18. She sings with perfect diction and “acts out” every lyric she performs, but her secret weapon is a fierce yet controlled vibrato. It rarely strays beyond a few microtones either side of the principal note, and, unlike an opera soprano’s vibrato, retains an intensity and focus that never detracts from the melody.
As well as performing songs from musicals in which she has starred – Aladdin, Mulan, Les Misérables and Miss Saigon – her actorly skill ekes new truths from familiar showtunes and pop standards, such as a duet arrangement of A-ha’s Take on Me for voice and acoustic guitar, or a conversational version of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car.

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