Here Lies Love is rising again. The dance-club musical, which premiered at the Public Theater back in 2013, explores the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos, the former Filipino first lady, serial plunderer and notorious footwear enthusiast (who is still alive and kicking at 93). A kind of disco Evita, the sung-through show was a major event in its initial run. And this June, more than a decade later, it will return to New York City in a production that promises to test the boundaries of musical theater on Broadway.
Conceived by David Byrne—the brain-expanding songwriter, musical magpie and erstwhile Talking Head—Here Lies Love features a groovy, rhythm-heavy score by Byrne and big beat pioneer Fatboy Slim. But that's just one of the things that will set this show apart from the usual Broadway fare. In a bold move, director Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge!) and choreographer Annie-B Parson aim to re-create the immersive nature of their original staging at the Public, placing much of the audience in the middle of the action.
That would be a challenge even if the show were at Circle in the Square, Broadway's only non-proscenium house. Instead, Here Lies Love will be at the massive Broadway Theatre, which will need to be extensively reconfigured to accommodate the concept. "Here Lies Love’s staging at the Broadway Theatre will transform the venue’s traditional proscenium floor space into a dance club environment, where audiences will stand and move with the actors," the production's press release explains. "A wide variety of standing and seating options will be available throughout the theater’s reconstructed space."
This may prove hard to pull off: Another acclaimed immersive Off Broadway musical, KPOP, didn't survive its transition to Broadway last year. But that show was extensively—almost unrecognizably—rewritten in the process of trying to squeeze itself into more conventional form. Will Here Lies Love find a happier ending by staying truer to itself? There lies the challenge.
Here Lies Love begins previews at the Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway at 53rd St) on June 17, 2023, and officially opens on July 20. Sign up at the show's website for early access when tickets go on sale.