David Byrne Next Broadway Show: David Byrne’s “American Utopia” has left Broadway, but the leader of the Talking Heads is planning a comeback—with disco. This summer, Byrne and Fatboy Slim plan to put their musical “Here Lies Love,” which is about the rise and fall of the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, on a Broadway stage.
It turned out that the former beauty queen who married a dictator loved to dance. In the 1970s, she turned the roof of one of her palaces in Manila into a nightclub and went to discos often.
Byrne’s 90-minute show about Marcos’s journey from poverty to wealth to exile played off-Broadway in 2013 and several other cities, including London in 2014 and Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2017.
The project started as a concept album played in a few live concerts, including one in 2007 at Carnegie Hall. Then, Alex Timbers turned it into a full-fledged theater piece with 360-degree staging.
Timbers will be in charge of creating an immersive experience at the 1,763-seat Broadway Theatre this time. A press release says that he and choreographer Annie-B Parson “will turn the proscenium floor into a dance club where the audience will stand and move along with the actors.”
At the start of the lively, catchy musical, Imelda is a poor girl who wins a beauty pageant and becomes famous. After a quick courtship, she marries Ferdinand Marcos, a rising politician who will soon become president.
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Most of the lyrics come from speeches or interviews with people on all sides during Marcos’ time in power. The 15 actors move around the space with the standing-only audience.
The Marcoses ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, the last 14 of which were under martial law. In 1986, a popular revolt drove them into exile in Hawaii, leaving the country’s economy in shambles because of its massive debts.
Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989, and Imelda, now 93, has moved back to the Philippines and run for office. The Philippines are now run by their son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Byrne said in 2014, “I wanted you to know a little about what drives Imelda, what she believes, what hurts her, and what she loves, so you could understand why she does what she does.”
Byrne, known for his art-rock songs like “This ain’t no party/This ain’t no disco,” said that he had never had anything against club music. Donna Summer, The O’Jays, and The Spinners are among the artists whose records he has. He said that using disco in “Here Lies Love” let him honor that sound and also allowed him to write songs for others he wouldn’t write for himself.
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