Here Lies Love, an Imelda Marcos disco musical, will play on Broadway

Ruthie Ann Miles as Imelda Marcos in Here Lies Love, during its Public Theatre run in New York on April 30, 2014. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK – Here Lies Love, a wild, immersive, disco-driven dance musical about Mrs Imelda Marcos, the extravagant and colourful former first lady of the Philippines, will make its long-anticipated trip to Broadway this summer.

The show, with downtown roots and dance-floor audiences, will be an unusual fit for Broadway. Its animating idea has been that both the actors and the audience are on their feet, circling one another as they move throughout the production.

A sung-through musical written by pop musicians David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love began its public life in 2007 as an embryonic multimedia song cycle presented at Carnegie Hall.

In 2010, Mrs Marcos listened to part of the double album with a New York Times reporter.

“I’m flattered, I can’t believe it,” she said.

Mrs Marcos, 93, is the widow of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr and the mother of current President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Then came the stage productions: in 2012 at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; in 2013 at the Public Theatre in New York; in 2014 at London’s National Theatre and back at the Public for a second engagement; and in 2017 at the Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Along the way, it has been transforming from a happening into a show, or at least learning how to do both by adding more chairs for patrons who like to watch while seated.

The upcoming production will be staged at the Broadway Theatre, one of the largest venues on Broadway, although a spokesman said that audience capacity had yet to be determined.

The producers said in a statement that they planned to “transform the venue’s traditional proscenium floor space into a dance club environment, where audiences will stand and move with the actors”, but promised “a wide variety of standing and seating options will be available”.

The production will be directed by Alex Timbers, who has been with the show through its stage journey. The set is designed by David Korins (Hamilton), and the choreographer is Annie-B Parson, who also designed the movement for Byrne’s previous Broadway venture, American Utopia.

Timbers has some experience with unconventional staging experiments on Broadway.

In 2014, he directed a musical adaptation of Rocky, in which some patrons were reseated during the show to make way for a boxing match, and in 2020, he won a Tony Award for directing Moulin Rouge!, with some patrons seated at cabaret tables surrounded by the stage action.

The Broadway production is scheduled to begin previews on June 17 and open on July 20, which will make it part of the 2023 to 2024 season. Casting has not been announced.

The producers, some of whom have been endeavouring for a decade to bring the show to Broadway, include Hal Luftig, Patrick Catullo, Diana DiMenna, Clint Ramos and Jose Antonio Vargas.

Ramos, who is also the show’s costume designer, and Vargas, who is a writer and an immigrant-rights advocate, were both born in the Philippines.

The show has hired Filipino American actress Giselle Tongi, who is also known as G, as a cultural and community liaison. NYTIMES

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