Broadway star Lea Salonga is 'hella grateful' turning 50 years old


Happy 50th birthday, Lea Salonga. Photo: Lea Salonga/Instagram

While she admits to being quite overwhelmed, musical theater icon Lea Salonga joyfully welcomed turning 50 years old on Feb 22.

“(Fifty) today!!! Woo-hoo!!! To everyone that sent a greeting, THANK YOU!!! I’m a tad overwhelmed, but in an oh so good way! Truly, this girl is hella grateful!” Salonga said on her Instagram page on the same day.

The Broadway and Disney star’s special day was aptly welcomed with birthday greetings from local and international celebrities.

For one, Sierra Boggess – the first-ever Ariel in Broadway’s The Little Mermaid production – took to her own Instagram to greet her fellow Broadway star.

“Today we celebrate @msleasalonga San!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so glad you were born and that you have inspired us for so many years and continue to kick so much booty as a fierce human!!! Love you Lea San!!!! Happy frickin birthday!!!!” she said, sharing photos of them together on stage.

Filipino-American Broadway actor Jose Llana also penned a short birthday greeting to Salonga, posting on Instagram, “The happiest of birthdays to this #beauty @msleasalonga.”

“Hey Lea, remember when I planted a huge #kiss on you at my final callback for #FlowerDrumSong because I was so nervous singing with my childhood #idol? [Philippine flag emoji] #SorryNotSorry #HappyBirthday, my friend,” he added.

American actor-musician Michael Arden likewise sent his well-wishes to Salonga, whom he refers to as his “Sister, Grace, and Goddess.”

“(I’m) so glad you and your light are in this world,” he stressed.

The award-winning birthday celebrant got her big break in the international scene after being cast as Kim in the musical Miss Saigon when she was 18 years old. She played the role both in the West End and Broadway productions.

Salonga then went on to star in several other musicals, including playing both Eponine and Fantine in Les Misérables. In the 25th anniversary of the original West End production of Les Misérables in 2010, Salonga reprised her role as Fantine among her fellow stars.

Aside from cementing her legacy as one of the musical world’s icons, Salonga has also been holding the “Disney Legend” title since 2011 for her performances as the singing voices of two Disney princesses: Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan in Mulan and Mulan 2. – Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network

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