As Tony Award winner Lea Salonga prepares to depart the first ever all-Filipino Broadway cast this week, her role will become a revolving door to showcase other well-known talent from the Philippines.
Actor and singer Vina Morales, also beloved in the Philippines, will take over as Aurora Aquino in “Here Lies Love” for a month-long engagement starting Sept. 22.
Producers say they are committed to highlighting the country's “abundance of talent," allowing guest performers a Broadway debut.
“To be able to perform on Broadway is a dream come true for any artist,” Morales said in a statement. “I am grateful to ‘Coach Lea’ Salonga for guiding me along the way.”
Salonga, who has been with the show since previews in June, called her friend Morales “a wonderful addition to our cast.”
Her final show will be the matinee Saturday. Another cast member will fill in until Morales' arrival.
Salonga next co-stars with Bernadette Peters in “Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends” at London’s Gielgud Theatre starting Sept. 16.
“Here Lies Love” chronicles the rise to power of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda during the 1960s and ’70s and the civil unrest that ensued. Musicians David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim wrote the music for the production, which takes on a night club setting for most of the 90-minute show.
The cast also includes Arielle Jacobs, Jose Llana and Conrad Ricamora.
The production marked Salonga's first time playing an actual Filipino character on Broadway. She has led other all-Asian ensembles such as “Allegiance,” “Flower Drum Song” and “Miss Saigon," which won her the Tony for best actress in a musical. In a funny coincidence, “Here Lies Love” is in the same theater where “Miss Saigon” ran from 1991-2001.
This has also been Salonga's first time as a Broadway producer. Her co-producers include other entertainers of Filipino descent—singer H.E.R., comedian Jo Koy and Black Eyed Peas’ Apl.de.Ap.
Outside of the stage, Salonga is widely known for her vocals in the Disney animated features “Aladdin” and “Mulan."
Tang, who reported from Phoenix, is a member of The Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at @ttangAP.