It felt like it was one of the longest lines I’ve ever waited. As I drew closer and closer to her, my heart kept pounding so fast. So this is how it feels like to be a fan, I thought.
Just three hours ago, I was mesmerized and awed by the voice that brought Philippines to the limelight of broadway. And when you hear the word ‘broadway’, who else would come to your mind but no other than Ms Lea Salonga. Feet came down to inches, and when it’s my turn to finally, finally, meet and greet her, words couldn’t come out of my mouth. I had to muster all my guts (oh yes I did!) and strength just to be able to say, “Hi, Ms Lea.”
Sadly, she didn’t looked up to say “hi” back. My heart broke and started muttering, blaming one of the production staff who keeps on dragging fans, one after another, to get their Lea Salonga mementos signed. My hubby, who came with me to watch the show, saw how upset I was and told me, “Siguro pagod na talaga siya.” And just like a loyal fan, I just savored those few seconds that I got to see her up close and personal.
The Playlist, Ms Salonga’s 35th anniversary concert held last December 6-7 at the PICC Plenary Hall, was actually my first time to see her concert live. And just like an adventure quest, the universe didn’t conspire with us to make this day less stressful. We had to brave the traffic in Manila and starved just to get to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on time. And luckily, we did. The universe made that a consolation.
The stage was all glittering and blue. The orchestra wasnt’ there yet, nor was a sign of the award-winning singer. So we sat and waited. A few moments later, Gerard Salonga and the orchestra arrived and started playing some of Ms Lea’s hits for the past 35 years – “Sun and Moon”, “I Am But A Small Voice”, and “Reflection”. The moment she stepped on the stage, the crowd went ecstatic but fell silent as soon as she started singing.
She opened the night with the song, “Do You Know Where You’re Going To”. As expected, there was a huge “awww…” from the people. Then she turned the beat around with her rendition of “This Girl Is On Fire”. Lea serenaded everyone with songs which, as always, proved her expertise and versatility in her own art.
The evening was filled with songs she loved and songs from artists she admired for their sheer talent in the field of music. Ballads from Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, and Barbra Streisand were among the few hits she fed the audience. And then of course, broadway songs, where one was a duet with Rachelle Ann Go, who will play Gigi in next year’s production and revival of Miss Saigon, the career-breaking musical that gave Lea her Tony. Artists who also shared the stage with Ms Lea in her Playlist concert were Mitoy of “The Voice of the Philippines”, Ogie Alcasid, who gave a surprise number, and Aga Muhlach, who charmed the crowd with Lea.
Lea’s encore were the soulful Christmas songs, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Jingle Bells”. Just when we thought she capped the night, she made the finale a little more lively with an Abba song that set the crowd up on their feet and dancing. And then she gave those final waves and huge smiles to all who came for her 35th anniversary concert. As for me, this is just a start of my fandom.