Born in 1971 in Manila, Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga — known as Lea Salonga — is a multi-award-winning performer. Salonga will star in Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends at the Gielgud Theatre in 2023.
Salonga made her professional debut in The King and I in the Philippines. She then starred in national productions of Annie, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music and The Fantasticks. Throughout her career, Salonga's balanced her time between Manila, the West End, and Broadway. In her home country, she's played Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Grizabella in Cats and Veronica in God of Carnage.
At 19, Salonga was cast as Kim in the world premiere of Miss Saigon. For her performance, she won the Olivier Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical, beating Patricia Hodge, Judy Kuhn, and Elaine Paige.
After two years in London, Salonga then made her Broadway debut in the same role. For Miss Saigon, she became the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award. In 1992, Salonga continued to make history, cast as the first Asian woman to play Éponine in Les Misérables on Broadway. Her Les Misérables journey also include Fantine on Broadway, as well as starring in the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts in London.
Salonga’s Broadway credits include Mei-Li in the 2002 revival of Flower Drum Song, and originating the role of Kei Kimura in George Takei’s Allegiance, the latter alongside George Takei and Telly Leung. In 2017, she played Erzulie in the Tony-winning revival of Once on This Island.
As well as an extensive Broadway career, Salonga also voices two Disney princesses: Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan in Mulan.
In 2023, Salonga will return to the West End for the first time in 27 years to star in Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends.