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Lea Salonga, of princess fame in ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Mulan,’ will be herself in concert in Costa Mesa

Filipina singer and actress Lea Salonga, best known for her singing voices of two Disney princesses, will perform Saturday at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
(Raymund Isaac / Daily Pilot)

A Disney princess is stepping out from behind the curtain of animation to treat fans to a live performance of songs.

Lea Salonga, best known as the voice of Princess Jasmine from “Aladdin” and Fa Mulan from “Mulan” and “Mulan II,” will return to Segerstrom Center on Saturday for a one-night-only performance as part of the center’s cabaret series.

The Filipina singer, who is called the “Voice of the Philippines,” will take the stage at the Costa Mesa venue backed by her four-piece band to belt out songs from a variety of musical genres, including Broadway versions from her roles in “Les Miserables” and “Miss Saigon” as well as Disney classics and some of her favorite pop hits.

“I’ve amassed such a nice collection of songs, and my musical director and I decided to pull out some traditional stuff and songs that have been associated with my voice,” Salonga, 45, said by phone from the Philippines. “They are songs that I enjoy doing.”

Salonga, who has performed for three U.S. presidents, six Philippines presidents and Britain’s Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II, began her 36-year career when she was 10 with her first album, “Small Voice.” The recording earned her honors and further success.

British theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh cast her in the title role in the London premiere of “Miss Saigon,” and at age 19, Salonga sprung to fame, winning the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical. The award is presented annually by the Society of London Theatre.

She recorded “A Whole New World” for Disney’s “Aladdin” — which won an Oscar for Best Original Song — took over the role of Eponine in the long-running “Les Miserables” and returned to the show as Fantine in the 2006 revival.

Her latest work earned her a Craig Noel Award nomination — named for the founding director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego — for Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical for her artistry in “Allegiance,” a production developed by actor George Takei, who played Sulu in the “Star Trek” television series. The show tells the story of a Japanese American family forced into an internment camp during World War II.

Salonga is passionate about the power of music and believes words sung to music take on a power all their own.

One song favorite, she said, is “I Dreamed a Dream,” a nod to when in 2010 she participated in the 25th anniversary concert of “Les Miserables” to sold-out crowds at London’s O2 Arena.

“Any of the musical theater songs speak to me the most because they’re all story songs,” Salonga said. “There’s so much more going on in them, and I enjoy singing the story.”

Most of her fans, she said, request that she sing Disney favorites. As a special surprise to concertgoers, Salonga said it has become tradition for her to invite a member of the audience on stage to sing “A Whole New World” with her and the band.

Salonga, who will have performed at Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge before she heads south to Costa Mesa, said her family and friends who live in Los Angeles will attend her show Saturday night.

One fan who won’t be requesting a certain song is her 9-year-old daughter, Nicole, who is expected to be in the Costa Mesa audience with Salonga’s husband.

“My daughter doesn’t care,” the singer said with a laugh. “She normally falls asleep when I perform. It’s happened a lot.”

Salonga, who divides her time between Manila and the Los Angeles area, said she finds fulfillment in celebrating music around the world. She recently performed at a charity concert event in the Philippines capital and helped raise over $500,000 to build 200 new homes through Habitat Humanity Philippines for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck in late 2013.

“I get a little bit of the jitters on stage, but it’s always fun when I step out there,” Salonga said. “It feels like you’re flying from the seat of your pants, but the audience is there to catch me. It’s always a good time.”

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Information: (714) 556-2787 or visit scfta.org

If You Go

What: Lea Salonga

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: Tickets start at $39


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