LEA Salonga will mean different things to different people. To some she will always be associated with the musical Miss Saigon which made her a star and to others she will forever be the voice of Disney’s Princess Jasmine in the animated version of Aladdin.

Now UK fans will get the chance to see Lea as herself as she performs her first solo shows on these shores, including a date in Manchester on Saturday.

“I’m really chomping at the bit,” she said. “I’ve got a special bond with audiences in the UK. It’s a chance for me to say ‘thank you’ too. If it hadn’t been for those audiences coming to see Miss Saigon, I don’t think there would have been the trip to New York that fuelled everything else that happened in my career. I’ve been so lucky.”

Lea was just 18 when, as an unknown, she was given the lead in the West End production of Miss Saigon.

She had been planning on bringing her solo tour to the UK earlier this year but was forced to postpone it when she suffered a serious leg injury on a ski-ing holiday.

“My doctor said ‘you can’t travel, you can’t do anything’, so I had no choice but to put it off,” she said.

After spending a month unable to put any weight on her left leg - Lea suffered a broken tibia - she has spent the past few months undergoing physiotherapy.

“It is incredible how quickly the leg loses muscle tone and strength when you’re immobilised in a brace,” she said. “It was like it had shrunk. Thankfully I’m pretty much almost 100 per cent now although I’m working hard in the gym to regain the strength and muscle tone I lost.”

In spite of her accident, Lea hasn’t abandoned the idea of going on the slopes again.

“Oh, no, I’d like to go ski-ing again but this time always with instructor,” she said. “Clearly I can’t be left to my own devices!”

On her solo shows, audiences will get a rare chance to see Lea as herself.

“I love being just me and singing,” she said. “That said I do get to disappear into a character when I sing the songs from musicals. You have to put yourself in different mindset hat lends itself to a truthful interpretation of what you’re going to sing.

“For me there doesn’t seem to be a better way to do that. I need to place myself in some sort of fictional situation in my head to interpret a song and tell a story as clearly as I can and not take any of those moments for granted.”

Given her many stage and recording successes, putting a setlist together for her solo shows could have proved tricky.

“I try to keep my ears open for stuff that might be fun to do and that fans might enjoy,” she said. “My musical director might suggest things as will members of my time and then we’ll all put our heads together and try to figure out what audiences might like.”|

Now 48, Lea appreciates that the songs she sung at the start of her career have taken on a different meaning.

“As you go along through life gaining experience your perspectives begin to change,” she said. “You look at songs you sung where you were just a kid which take on a whole different meaning now you’re an adult.

“It’s fun to be able to re-examine songs I sung when I was 17 or 18 and realise how timeless they are.”

To several generations, Lea will always be a Disney Princess - she provided songs for both Princess Jasmine and for Mulan.

“Aladdin was 27 years ago,” she said. “Can you image how many generations of kids listened to A Whole New World or how many little girls relate to that princess? Its impact has reached more people than I can even imagine.”

After her solo tour, Lea will start to prepare for a starring role in the musical Sweeney Todd on Broadway.

“I’ll be listening carefully to all the accents over in the UK,” she laughed. “That’s my homework while I’m with you.”

Lea Salonga, Manchester Opera House, Saturday, July 13. Details from www.cuffeandtaylor.com