Milli Vanilli—the opera? You better believe it

The pop fakers behind “Girl You Know It’s True” get the full Wagnerian treatment in Wow

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Milli Vanilli

Milli Vanilli Photograph: Eugene Adebari/REX USA


Most anything in pop culture seems to be opera fodder these days, from Anna Nicole Smith to Breaking Bad. And now, Milli Vanilli. Everyone’s favorite lip-synching frauds are the stuff of derision, certainly—but the stuff of high tragedy? That’s the gambit composer Joe Diebes, poet Christian Hawkey and director David Levine are making with Wow, a new tuner about the doomed ’80s pop duo.

Before you go crying “jukebox musical,” Wow ain’t that: It’s an experimental work-in-progress, taking Milli Vanilli’s infamous track-skip moment as a jumping-off point to mess with preconceptions about timing and staging in live performance. It’s also taking a page from the immersive-theater playbook, leading the audience through various rooms at recently minted Brooklyn performance space BRIC House in the course of the show.

But yes, this is all about the rise and fall of the long-haired, shoulder-padded Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, and what Diebes described to The New York Times as a “Faustian bargain” they struck with producer Frank Farian. Pop nostalgists and opera aficionados alike can check out the show from January 23 through February 1 at BRIC House ($18, advance $15). And unlike the real Milli Vanilli, the performers in Wow will actually sing their own vocals. Girl, you know it’s true.

Check out an interview with the creators below.


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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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