It’s a rarefied group of Broadway legends that Lea Salonga belongs to, thanks to her career-making turns in the 1990s in two gargantuan shows: She originated the role of Kim in Miss Saigon (and won a Tony) and memorably played Eponine in Les Misérables. And she’s a member of another elite club as well: actors who’ve voiced Disney princesses (Salonga has voiced two: Jasmine in Aladdin, and Mulan).
But Salonga hasn’t rested on her laurels and continues to pursue out-of-the-box creative projects, like her recently released album Blurred Lines, as she discusses on this week’s Billboard on Broadway podcast.
“The lines between the genres are blurred for this album,” Salonga says. “You’ll have a pop song that sounds like it could have been a jazz standard in the beginning of its life.” Recorded live at Salonga’s show at Feinstein’s/54Below in New York, the album mixes the Broadway classics Salonga is known for with her interpretations of pop songs by the likes of One Direction, Tracy Chapman and, yes, the Robin Thicke song that gives the album its title — which, as Salonga notes, “bears very little resemblance to the original” in her re-imagining.
In her chat with host Rebecca Milzoff, Salonga talks at length about her own pop music fandom growing up in the Philippines, the stories behind her song choices on the record, how live audiences inform her performances, and why she’s still not tired of singing the songs that made her famous.