MANILA – A decade ago, Lea Salonga watched Repertory Philippines’ “Sweeney Todd” starring Audie Gemora in the titular role and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as his accomplice, Mrs. Lovett.
And after that, the Broadway star started to set her sights on the Mrs. Lovett role.
Fast forward to 2019, Salonga is set to portray the meat pie maker in Atlantis Theatrical’s “Sweeney Todd,” alongside rock star Jett Pangan.
The final offering for Atlantis’ 20th anniversary season will run from October 11 to 27 at The Theatre at Solaire.
It took years before Salonga finally decided to work on “Sweeney Todd” with director Bobby Garcia.
Which begs the question: “If she really wanted it, why only now?”
“It was something I wanted to do after I first saw it here, Menchu Lauchengco did it. [I thought] ‘That looks interesting to do,’ but maybe later on,” she said on the sidelines of her “Perfect Ten” press conference on Tuesday.
“It was kind of a back burner thing for me and Bobby to eventually do,” she continued.
“And then [there came a time when] we both felt, ‘Okay, we’re the right age for this. Let’s do this.’”
The next step was to get a suitable actor for the role of Sweeney Todd – and Garcia had no one but Pangan in mind.
“So he (Garcia) started casting it in his head, and I’m like – who are we going to get for Sweeney? He said we’ll get Jett because nobody in this musical theater world in Manila has a voice like that,” she said.
Salonga said in jest that she is no longer excited to work with Pangan (“We’ve been friends for so long so I don’t know if excited is the word I’d use”), but the Broadway star is looking forward to “singing along that voice.”
“Oh my God, it’s just ridiculous,” she said of the rock star’s singing prowess. “I saw him in ‘Next to Normal,’ and also in ‘Rock of Ages.’”