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Lea Salonga to perform in London's West End for first time in 27 years |

Arts and Culture

Lea Salonga to perform in London's West End for first time in 27 years

Kristofer Purnell -
Lea Salonga to perform in London's West End for first time in 27 years
Multi-awarded singer-actress Lea Salonga
Lea Salonga / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Theater legend Lea Salonga has been tapped to join the restaging of "Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends" on West End's Gielgud Theatre from September 2023 to January 2024.

Salonga blossomed on the global stage when she originated the role of Kim in "Miss Saigon" on West End's Drury Lane back in 1989, reprising the role on its Broadway run. She was awarded a Tony — the first Asian to do so — and a Laurence Olivier award, respectively.

The actress had not been on a theatrical run on London's West End in 27 years, though in 1996 she was a replacement for Éponine on "Les Miserables" at the Palace Theatre and helped close the original run of "Miss Saigon."

In 2014 during the West End revival of "Miss Saigon," Salonga and several of her original castmates appeared for a special finale to celebrate the production's 25th anniversary.

"I cannot wait to start working on this along with some old friends of my own!!! This is going to be FUN!!!," Salonga said in an Instagram post confirming her participation.

Stage producer Cameron Mackintosh announced the extended run of "Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends," which he produced for the late theater lyricist who passed away in 2021, and will include cast members who featured in the May 2022 run at the Sondheim Theatre, namely, Janie Dee, Bonnie Langford, Jeremy Secomb, and Filipino-British actress Christine Allado.


A post shared by Lea Salonga (@msleasalonga)

Joining Salonga and her milestone return is three-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters who will be making her West End debut.

Mackintosh said in a statement, he initially discussed the production with Sondheim in the middle of the pandemic but got distracted when theaters reopened, and Sondheim later died at the ripe age of 91.

The producer pursued finishing the show to incorporate Sondheim's iconic work including "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber on Fleet Street," "Into the Woods," "Sunday in the Park with George," "West Side Story," "Follies," "Company," and "Merrily We Roll Along."

The May 2022 run included big names such as Michael Ball, Judi Dench, Helena Bonham Carter, and Damian Lewis.

Mackintosh also referred to Salonga as his "youngest old friend" as he produced the previously mentioned 2014 West End revival of "Miss Saigon."

"Steve was always a 'Broadway Baby' at heart, so I’m delighted that I have been able to put together one last great hurrah for my old friend, containing many of the greatest songs ever written for the musical theatre, in one 'great big Broadway show' — just as he wanted," Mackintosh ended.

RELATED: WATCH: Lea Salonga, Pentatonix version of Jose Mari Chan song reaches nearly 1M views

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