When Salonga came to national fame starring in Miss Saigon, there.was a subsequent document on the making of the show, which included her audition. The story was that the producers had looked all over the world for a young actress to play the lead, and after not being able to find anyone looked in unlikely places and came across the young Lea Salonga from the Philippines.
That's all true. But the implication from it was that she came out of nowhere. In fact, it turned out that Ms. Salonga was a pretty big star in the Philippines. Certainly that's not the heart of the world's entertainment community, but it wasn't like she had just been singing in her living room and came out of nowhere. In fact, as a young girl she'd had a TV show there, starring with her brother, I believe.
She also appeared on stage as a young girl. And though there aren't a whole lot of shows for a little girl to star in, there is one that is the Holy Grail of musicals for little girls. Yes -- nine-year-old Lea Salonga starred in...Annie. As the little red-headed mop-top.
And we have footage of it!
Not just footage, but THE song. The full number, in fact, complete with the dialogue scene that comes in the middle. And it will not shock you to learn that she's very good.
(By the way, in every production or video I've seen of Annie, the dog Sandy is always a scruffy mutt. Here it's hilariously a German Shepard. Hilarious because it's not only almost as big as her, but you think one wrong move and she could be a goner.)
But she makes it. And here is Lea Salong, age 9, singing, "Tomorrow."