January 30, 2023

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‘Here Lies Love,’ the David Byrne-Couritan musical, will open on Broadway

4 min read

“Here Lies Love,” a famous “disco pop” stage musical with a score by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, dramatizing the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos in the Philippines, has finally landed a long-awaited berth on Broadway.

Opening this summer in one of New York’s most prominent venues, the Broadway theater, “Here Lies Love,” will be produced in the fully immersive, mostly standing-room format that was an essential element of its world premiere engagement at Public Theater 10. years ago, and subsequent productions in London and Seattle. That immersive setting also posed the biggest potential challenge in mounting the show on Broadway, where ripping out seats isn’t an annual occurrence.

Preview performances will begin on June 17, with the show’s official opening night on July 20.

Most of the team that has been involved with the show in previous productions will return, including Tony-winning director Alex Timbers, choreographer Annie-B Parsons and Clint Ramos, a Tony winner who has worked as a designer and creative director as well as a creative director. the producer

Ramos is one of many Filipino creative team members, which largely reflects what will be seen on stage behind the scenes, as “Here Lies Love” has Filipinos playing all of its main acting roles. The strong involvement of Filipinos at all levels has proven key in engaging that community in previous productions, particularly because of the controversial subject matter, the repressive regime led by Fernando Marcos and his wife for decades before they were finally ousted from power in the 1980s.

Jose Antonio Vargas, one of the show’s producers and founder of the immigration organization Define American, said: “Filipinos are among the largest immigrant groups in the Americas –– and also among the most culturally invisible, despite the two nations’ shared colonial history. Although the Asian diaspora can no longer be denied in American popular culture, Filipinas and Filipinos remain out of the spotlight. I’m thrilled to help break barriers on what has historically been an exclusive stage: Broadway.”

The 1924-circa Broadway Theater is one of the most visible pieces of New York theater real estate, one of only five Broadway houses that actually sit on the street of that name. It seats 1,765, according to the Shubert Organization’s web page for the theater — but how many “seats” there will be for this show is open to question, given that “Here Lies Love” has previously played in settings that have an open SRO floor. Augmented by less traditional seating on the side or on a balcony.

The production’s announcement states that “the venue’s traditional proscenium floor space will be transformed into a dance club atmosphere, where the audience will stand and move with the actors. A variety of standing and seating options will be available throughout the theater’s redesigned space, with more details to be announced soon.”

“Here Lies Love” opened off-Broadway at the Public Theater in 2013 and had a return engagement there in 2014-15. Its biggest staging to date was in 2014 at the Royal National Theater in London. The show was staged again in 2017 in America at the Seattle Repertory Theatre.

diversity Enthusiastically reviewing their engagement in Seattle five years ago, the show was “one of the most creatively satisfying rock-to-theatre crossover projects ever … an instant destination for a keen interest in the underdeveloped intersection of immersive theater, talking heads, and show tunes. And club beats, or the whole subgenre of dystopian-diva musicals. … Byrne’s show is undeniably in the tradition of ‘Evita’, the mother of all royal rags-to-the-beach shows, except it’s much more fun with audience-participation, before – ironically – becoming more serious (‘than ‘Evita’). The death toll rises as dictators and their allied husbands shake their fascist trenches.”

“Here Lies Love” was initially unveiled to the public in the form of a 2010 concept album featuring vocals by artists such as Sia, Tori Amos, Florence Welch, Natalie Merchant, Steve Earle and the late Sharon Jones. By the time the official cast album came out in 2014, Byrne had replaced about a third of the music. wrote diversity of the Seattle show, “What stands out now is a 26-song score that disproves any concerns about (Byrne’s) ability to transcend his rock idiosyncrasies for a medium that demands more in both formality and variety. Although the emphasis is on contemporary beats, ‘Here Lies Love’ has something for everyone — ingénue ballads, Elton John-style ’70s pop-disco, tropical love songs, angsty soul stirrings, political rockers, folk. Protest tunes, tinges of techno, and pretty straightforward musical theater tunes.”

Later, of course, Byron became a Tony winner, granted a special Tony in 2021 for “American Utopia,” a highly theatrical concert production in which he and a musician performed his solo and Talking Heads music, from a national. Visit the Winter Garden for an extended engagement.

“Here Lies Love” is being produced on Broadway by Hal Luftig, Patrick Catullo, Diana Dimena and Clint Ramos for Plate Spinner Productions and Jose Antonio Vargas — the latter two being billed as the first Filipino lead producers on Broadway.

Says Ramos, a Tony winner who first got involved working on the project in 2006: “Exciting lessons are often learned through uniquely amazing works of art. And no wonder than the way ‘Here Lies Love’ vividly and creatively illuminates an important part of Philippine history. Jose and I are very proud to help bring this singularly original show to life.”

The announcement noted that the show has four Filipino co-producers — Miranda Goh, Celia Kalialoha Kenny, Rob Lucky and Gisele “G” Tongi — while Filipino creative team members include music director J. Ocona Navarro, costume designer Clint Ramos, casting director Gail Quintos, assistant director Billy Bustamante, assistant stage manager Cheryl Polancos and the aforementioned producer Tongio serve as cultural and community liaisons.

Other key figures in the production include scenic designer David Korins, lighting designer Justin Townsend, sound designers ML Dogg and Cody Spencer, and production designer Peter Nigrini. Casting is being handled by Tara Rubin and Javier Rubiano; Foresight is responsible for theatrical general management.

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