Lea Salonga: Broadway star, Disney princess, cabaret chanteuse

Sep 02

Lea Salonga: Broadway star, Disney princess, cabaret chanteuse

It’s the day after the Richmond-Ermet AIDS Foundation, and Lea Salonga, visiting family in the Bay Area, is still glowing because, at the curtain call, she got to hold hands with Shirley Jones.

“Some of the 20somethings there had no idea who Shirley Jones was,” Salonga says. “My jaw dropped on the floor. Come on, people! Watch a rerun of The Partridge Family at the very least. See Oklahoma! or Carousel! She has done Broadway and film and television and she still looks and sounds amazing. If you don’t know Shirley Jones, woe be to you. Those of us from New York all know who she is.”

Salonga is no slouch herself. A Tony winner for Miss Saigon, she is married, has a 5-year-old daughter and makes her home in Manila, in her native Philippines. She’ll make her San Francisco cabaret debut later this month as the season opener for Bay Area Cabaret, now in its second season in the Fairmont Hotel’s venerable Venetian Room. Her original date on Sept. 16 sold out quickly, so a second show, at 5pm on Sept. 17 has been added.

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From stage to screen, in comes Company

Jun 14

From stage to screen, in comes <i>Company</i>

After performing on the Tony Awards last Sunday with her fellow Company cast members, Anika Noni Rose, all glammed out in a gorgeous white gown, devoured a giant plate of nachos.

The Tony Award-winning actor laughs at the thought of herself devouring the late-night snack in all her red-carpet glory. "There I was grubbing on nachos. They were delicious." And how do we know that Rose enjoyed the snack? She posted a photo of the meal on her Twitter feed (@AnikaNoniRose).

This week, Rose is making a splash across the country. She's part of a starry cast that the New York Philharmonic pulled together for three concerts Stephen Sondheim's Company presented last April but forever preserved in an HD broadcast to be screened in movie theaters from coast to coast.

The first screenings start Tuesday, June 15. At San Francisco's Embarcadero Cinema, for instance, it screens June 15, 16 and 19, but there are also screenings in Cupertino, Rohnert Park, Napa, Pleasant Hill, Mill Valley, Sausalito, Walnut Creek, San Rafael, San Jose, Hayward and many more. As you can see, this Company is inviting lots of company.

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The blossoming of Anika Noni Rose

Feb 21

The blossoming of Anika Noni Rose

Watching Anika Noni Rose (seen above, photo by Andrew Macpherson )on the cabaret stage, you sense a superstar in the making.

The gorgeous Rose, all of 38, has already made a name for herself in the theater, winning the Tony Award for her performance in the Tony Kushner/Jeanine Tesori masterwork Caroline, or Change. On screen, she provided the voice of Tiana, Disney's first African-American princess (in The Princess and the Frog) and she smooched and sang with Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce in Dreamgirls.

She has conquered stage, screen and TV (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Good Wife) – the cabaret stage is about the only performance arena she hasn't yet made her own. But she's working on it. In only her second solo cabaret act – her first in San Francisco – Rose demonstrated a sassy onstage persona, an appealing voice and a vintage collection of songs.

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Broadway `Cat’ headed for big screen?

May 18

Anika Noni Rose and Terrence Howard in the Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Photo by the New York Times Interesting article in Variety about the recent Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof starring James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Terrence Howard and Anika Noni Rose. Not surprisingly, this camera-ready cast may be...

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In the `Dreamgirls’ groove

Nov 21

As I understand it, my responsibility as a blogger is that elusive thing called BUZZ. That said, let me buzz a little about Dreamgirls, which I saw last week after spending much of the year in jittery anticipation of its arrival. First off, I love that the movie is dedicated to the memory of Michael Bennett, the director and co-producer/co-choreographer of the...

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