Lea stirs audience, Charice flops in fundraising concert at the Kennedy Center

Lea Salonga and Darren Criss did a duet from 'Aladdin.' Photos courtesy of the Philippine Embassy

Lea Salonga and Darren Criss did a duet from ‘Aladdin.’ Photos courtesy of the Philippine Embassy

By Maricar CP Hampton

A mix of ethnic pride and a little bit of disappointment showed on the faces of concertgoers on their way out of the Kennedy Center after watching the successful After the Storm fundraising concert on June 15.

While Lea Salonga clearly delivered a breathtaking performance with her medley from Broadway musicals, Charice had what some called a musical meltdown.

Charice’s lip-synced performance was “awful,” said Charmaine Cruz, a businesswoman from Baltimore. “I did not understand her song. For a place like Kennedy Center her performance was out of place.”

Charice was a “hot mess,” declared political analyst Erwin de Leon.

While Charice’s number was good for some chuckles, it did not dampen the mood of many who came to the 1,200-seat Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“The performances were awesome, especially Lea,” said Shane San Jose, an office manager from McLean, Virginia.

After the Storm was a benefit concert for the survivors of the biggest storm in recorded history in the Philippines. The concert hall was attended mostly by FilAms across the East Coast, but also seen enjoying the musical program were government officials and diplomats led by Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, whose maternal grandfather is Filipino.

“It was moving and just spectacular,” said Malu Araque, programs and operations manager at the U.S. Philippine Society.

Some FilAms, such as dietitian Marilyn Donato from Roanoke, Virginia, chose to celebrate Father’s Day by going to the concert with their families. She said, “It’s so fabulous. It’s well worth the money and the trip.”

The concert featured a broad musical repertoire, which included hip-hop, opera, ballet, Broadway, contemporary and classical music by world-renowned artists from the Philippines and the United States.

Lea, a Tony awardee, belted out a medley from “Les Miserables” and did a duet from Disney’s “Aladdin” with Darren Criss of Glee, who is FilAm.

This is said to be the first Filipino event held at the storied Kennedy Center, and many considered it a proud moment for the community.

Ambassador Jose Cuisia thanked the Filipino community for making the event a success. “This is a very clear manifestation of the bayanihan spirit. For the first time 33 organizations based in Washington, D.C. MD, VA worked together as one.”

In between performances, celebrities – such as Gloria and Emilio Estefan, James Caan, and Suze Orman — delivered video messages. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Filipinos are a strong people who just “kept going” in the face of adversity.

Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, of the World Food Program, went on stage to tell the audience how impressed he was with the resilience of the Filipino people. He said he was particularly amazed to see typhoon survivors, especially children, welcome him with smiles along the devastated roads of Tacloban.

Vice President Biden had a message read for him by his daughter-in-law Kathleen. He reiterated the commitment made by President Obama, who visited the Philippines recently, that the U.S. would continue to stand by the Philippines until the country gets back on its feet.

Apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas got the audience dancing to the song “We Can Be Anything.” This number was followed by his duet of “Where is the Love” with Criss.

For the finale number, all performers returned on stage for a collective rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music. Charice was noticeably absent, and to some in the audience, the show ended on a truly inspiring note.

Apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas got the audience dancing.

Apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas got the audience dancing.

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