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Lea Salonga Writes about singing with Darren Criss
Presenting … Darren Criss
A few days ago, I received a surprising e-mail from “Glee” actor Darren Criss, asking if I’d be interested to sing “A Whole New World” with him at The Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference.
Alan Menken (Oscar-winning composer who wrote the song) would be receiving a special award, and Darren had been tapped to serenade him. Then Darren tapped me to join in.
After checking my schedule (I had a cabaret performance scheduled for the evening so I needed to make sure I was available), I wrote him back and said yes.
We were able to schedule a bit of rehearsal time, thanks to his manager Ricky, in a function room at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. (Goodness we needed it.)
As reference, I had listened to a previous rendition he performed with Charlene Kaye, so at least I had that in my head. However, we had never ever performed together before, and I don’t think either of us wanted a less-than polished performance for Alan.
We went through the song at least five times, figuring out harmonies, accents, how long to hold this note or that.
We were then escorted backstage to wait for our cue. Alan was onstage fielding questions at the conference.
Darren was then called up to the stage to start a medley of hits from the various Disney movies that Alan had scored and wrote music for, as well as a couple from his musical theater shows.
At the end, Darren then started to play “A Whole New World” and began singing. After his verses and chorus, he called me to join him. When Alan saw my face, he jumped in his chair. It was certainly a wonderful moment.
We then had photos taken together and chatted for a bit before it was time for me to head on to my cabaret rehearsal which was, thankfully, only a few blocks away.
A few tears
Oh yeah, Darren came to that show too, along with members of my family and pockets of other friends. And yes, he shed a few tears when I sang “Reflection” (Darren’s kinda famous for covering Disney music, including the “Princess” songs).
So Darren, many, many thanks again for recruiting me to sing with you for Alan Menken. That was an afternoon I shall always remember, for how much fun it was.