When asked about her ardor for music, Lea Salonga replies, "Why not music?"
Having grown up needing little to no encouragement to take on an audience, the Tony- and Olivier Award-winning Filipina singer calls her career choice a "no-brainer."
"My mother recalls me standing on the living room table with the end of a plug as a microphone, and I'd sing at family parties," Salonga said. "It apparently didn't take much prodding to get me to perform."
Salonga will sing for the first time at the Segerstrom Center at 8 p.m. Saturday. Her special, one-night only performance is part of the center's Cabaret Series.
"Ms. Salonga is one of Broadway's greatest talents who has thrilled audiences nationally and internationally as both the star of large-scale musicals and as a solo performance artist," said Segerstrom Center President Terry Dwyer in an email. "We could not be more excited about sharing [her] very special talents with our enthusiastic Orange County audiences."
Over the course of her career, Salonga has worked under the tutelage of nurturing producers, composers and musical directors who recognized her natural talent and "pushed to get it out." The role played by her family, however, is incomparable.
"Without my family's support and encouragement, none of this would be possible," she said. "My family still plays a significant part — my brother Gerard creates many of my arrangements and orchestrations; my mom manages my career in the Philippines, and various cousins help me out when I perform in the U.S., especially in Southern California."
Starting out at the age of seven with "The King and I," the soprano songstress' 30-year career includes roles in "Miss Saigon," "Aladdin," "Mulan," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and others. She also recently starred in "God of Carnage" and "Allegiance," a workshopped production with actor George Takei.
According to Salonga, being the first Asian to play Eponine and Fantine in "Les Misérables" on Broadway was "truly a crazy thing."
"It's certainly testimony to having dogged determination and a producer that believes in what I can do," she said. "I wanted to prove that it could be done — that the suspension of disbelief could be extended a bit further."
If You Go
Who: Lea Salonga
Where: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Cost: Tickets range from $26 to $86
Information: (714) 556-2787 or http://www.scfta.org