By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

January 30, 2013

NEW YORK – Tony Award winner Lea Salonga is back in the Big Apple for a couple of exciting concerts.

On Wednesday night, the 2013 season of the American Songbook series opens with Salonga’s very own 75-minute concert at the prestigious Lincoln Center’s “The Allen Room.”

“Hopefully it’ll set a nice tone, it kind of gets everybody excited about the whole series and not just about the first night,” Salonga said, “Now, to have my own show there in this historic piece of New York City, it’s a big deal for every performer that they were part of this history.”

The American Songbook concert series celebrates the best in American singing and songwriting with 21 nights of performances by 21 great artists, including Emmy and Tony award winner Kristin Chenoweth.

“I try as much as possible to always incorporate something new or a fresh take on something old in my concerts and I just try to make sure I’m in good vocal condition to not give anybody any room to criticize,” Salonga said, acknowledging that the New York City audience is a tough crowd.

Having played both Eponine and Fantine in Les Miserable on Broadway, Salonga was all praises for award-winning actress Anne Hathaway’s take on Fantine on the big screen, the same way Hathaway praised Salonga’s performances in Broadway.

Salonga said, “I thought it was very, very sweet of her to gush, I guess, unabashedly, generously over my performances so I’m really happy about that.”

During Tuesday’s rehearsals, Salonga’s rendition of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” brought back emotions stirred by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last December.

Salonga said that when she heard about the Sandy Hook tragedy she and her husband held their daughter, Nicole, a little tighter that night.

Tears were running down her face as Salonga sang one of the most unforgettable and one of her favorite songs on Les Miserables the Musical.

“For me that song signifies a lot more than the context that it was originally sung in Les Miz,” She said, “We think about the teachers in Sandy Hook in Newtown, we think of the children that passed away in Sandy Hook, so the song takes on a whole different context.”

The American Songbook concert series will continue with other great artists performing until April.

For those who didn’t catch Lea’s sold-out performance at the Allen Room tonight, kababayans can still watch Lea Salonga perform the role of “mother” in the Tony Award-winning musical “Ragtime” together with other Tony Award-winning actors at the Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on February 18.


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