Salonga in San Francisco, California on September 16, 2011
|Birth name||MarÃa Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga|
February 22, 1971 |
|Origin||Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines|
|Genres||Pop, OPM, R&B, musical theatre|
|Labels||Atlantic, Arista, Capitol, EMI Philippines, Musiko, Sony Music Philippines, WEA, Walt Disney|
I play video games a lot… I love to read… I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter, who are my most favorite people in the world.
In the modern operas that 'Miss Saigon' and 'Les Miz' are, nobody breaks out into song from conventional book dialogue. Everything is sung from beginning to end, including the recitative.
'Allegiance' is pretty much a book musical. You know, people talk and then they burst out into song.
I watch a lot of TV – 'Perfect Strangers,' 'Family Matters,' 'Who's the Boss?' – then I go over my notes in the script, lock it into my head and go to bed.
I think that if an audience is truly appreciative of a performance, they will show it. Sometimes though, there are little differences, and there are audiences that are very reserved even though they are enjoying the show.
I seem to have a soft spot in my heart for Australia and Australian actors. After having worked with one in 'Cinderella' and a multitude of them in 'Cats,' I've wanted the opportunity to actually perform 'down under.'
I'm interested in just about anything that's right for my voice, and that's a good fit for my personality in the part as well. 'Evita' has always been a dream part for me, but it's really, really high to sing. I'd love to do Elphaba – heck, I'd even do Glinda. For me, I'd do anything to get into 'Wicked!'
It's in your DNA to be a Filipino; how can you just turn your back on it?
I want every Filipino woman empowered with information regarding all options available to her regarding family planning.
I was 28, and my mom was living with me. I had to decide. You have to claim it; you can't ask permission. After a gig in Singapore, she went home, I went to New York on my own, I packed her stuff in boxes and sent it home. I don't think she liked me for a while for doing that. It was something I needed to do to carve out my own space.
I have a half-brother who is very, very, very gay, many cousins, best friends who are all members of the LGBT community, and for me to not say anything would be hypocritical. There is a lot of prejudice. People think it is abnormal. No, it's just another normal.
When I was about 6, my cousin was very active in a Filipino repertory company, doing musicals and plays. Her aunt was one of the founders of the company, and she told my mom that there were these auditions for 'The King and I,' and that they needed kids. I auditioned, got in and the love affair started from there and just kept going.
The thing about World War II is that everyone knows about the concentration camps in Europe – in Nazi Germany and Poland and Auschwitz and the other camps – but, no one really talks about the camps that were here in the United States.
When I'm doing a one-on-one with somebody, I have to speak in a language that that person can understand, using a vocabulary that they instantly get, and I always have to feel my way around to figure that out. It's a lot of fun, and it's also really challenging – challenging in a different way from performing.
All the Disney Princess films are iconic and beautiful, so to have been a part of all that was really a wonderful part of my life. It's all fabulous, too, that I have a daughter that appreciates the whole Princess thing.
I'd love to do just straight theatre. I'd love to do film and television, too.
I pride myself in the fact that in the six months tour of Cinderella, I didn't take one show off.
I was 17 when I auditioned for 'Miss Saigon.' I really grew up doing that show. I pretty much knew, almost a year into 'Miss Saigon,' that I was going to be a performer, that I was going to be singing and acting.
Love your enemies… it's not always an easy tenet to live by… and I have more often than not been inclined to wish my enemies ill than well.
The nice thing about doing a pop opera – in the way that doing, say, 'Miss Saigon' or 'Les Miz' would be – is that, because the convention is set from the beginning that this is an opera and everything is sung, there is never that feeling of 'Why is this person bursting out into song?' because the whole thing is sung.
I took some voice lessons here and there as a teenager but nothing too serious. I started taking it more seriously when I was in Miss Saigon. I needed to improve my technique in order to survive doing that show as many time a week as I was doing it. It's not an easy show to sing, so I needed all the help I could get.
I was doing TV work, theatre work, and some film work in the Philippines when I left.
I would love to do some straight drama. A lot of times it's not up to the actor, it's up to the producer. It's up to the powers that be.
The thing about Sondheim is that it does get very cerebral. You do need a faculty with words and a love for the lyrics to not just pull it off, but to have an appreciation for it.
I think I will always be performing; I don't think I can take that away. Because I really just enjoy it. I like getting up to sing; I like the challenge of learning new material and singing it in front of an audience.
I just refuse to date actors. I've done that, and I don't want to do that anymore. It's just the stress of traveling and being away from each other so much.
I don't think I would've been performing this long if I didn't love it sincerely to the degree that I do. It's not enough to like it. Dilettantes like things. Professionals love things and I consider myself a professional.
There are a lot of actors who wish there was a next play, a next musical. As an actor, I guess that's all I can wish for – the next role, the next opportunity.