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Onstage in Australia: PBS’ ‘Great Performances’ features Lea Salonga in concert at Sydney Opera House

Lea Salonga with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for the PBS special “Lea Salonga in Concert.” (Courtesy of Robert Catto)

Lea Salonga is feeling good about her latest performance with the Sydney Opera House.

In fact, it was recorded and will air on New Mexico PBS and PBS stations across the country.

As part of its fourth annual “Broadway’s Best” lineup, “Great Performances” shines a spotlight on Tony Award winner Lea Salonga with the world premiere of “Lea Salonga in Concert” at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27.

Captured in performance at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Salonga performs the beloved songs she made famous throughout her Broadway career as well as her signature songs from the animated movie blockbusters, “Aladdin” and “Mulan.”

Renowned worldwide for her powerhouse voice and perfect pitch, Salonga entered the Broadway musical scene with her 1991 Tony-winning performance as Kim in “Miss Saigon” and most recently starred in the Tony-winning 2017 revival of “Once on This Island.”

She was the first Asian cast member to play Eponine in the musical “Les Misérables” on Broadway and later returned to the beloved show as Fantine in the 2006 revival.

“It’s a pretty comprehensive list,” Salonga says of the set. “Not every song that I performed in the concert made it to the broadcast cut. There were plenty more songs.”

Salonga wanted to switch up her set list for the show and go in a different direction when it came to “Miss Saigon.”

“Normally people would associate the love duets or the solos I get to sing,” she says. “There is one song that I’ve been singing, and we went a different way.”

But when it comes to singing “A While New World” and “Reflection” from Disney’s “Aladdin” and “Mulan,” Salonga can’t stray away from those.

“Singing ‘Reflection’ today takes me back to when I first sang the song,” she says. “It’s become like a marker from which I can see what has happened since then. It stops being about a girl figuring out who she is and it’s about me looking back at what kind of representation I’ve been able to help push forward.”

Salonga’s entire career has been about making a difference and forging a new path.

With “Miss Saigon,” she was catapulted into popular culture. Along the way, she’d made every effort to help others out in the industry.

“I’m always ready to pass the baton,” she says. “I see a performer making their way, and I help them. I still feel like I’m passing that baton so people can make a difference.”

Salonga has also worked hard to get where she is.

“Sometimes I should feel tired,” she says. “I don’t feel tired because the work is still invigorating.”

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