Review Roundup: HERE LIES LOVE Reopens Off-Broadway
The Public Theater's production of David Byrne, Fatboy Slim and Alex Timbers' smash hit musical, Here Lies Love opened last night, May 1st at the Public Theater's LuEsther Hall for an open-ended commercial run. The principal cast from the 2013 world premiere of Here Lies Love returns, including Ruthie Ann Miles and Jose Llana as Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos, and Conrad Ricamora as Ninoy Aquino.
Within a pulsating dance club atmosphere, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim deconstruct the astonishing journey of Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos retracing her meteoric rise to power and subsequent descent into infamy and disgrace at the end of the People Power Revolution. Here Lies Love is neither a period piece nor a biography, neither a play nor a traditional musical, but an immersive theatrical event combining songs influenced by four decades of dance music, adrenaline-fueled choreography, and a remarkable 360-degree scenic and video environment to celebrate Imelda's meteoric rise to political prominence and subsequent tragic consequences of her well-documented abuse of power.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Ben Brantley, New York Times: It is also ingeniously devised to reflect the interior life of Imelda R. Marcos, a provincial teenage beauty queen, who in this show continues to treat life as one long pageant, with an emphasis on the evening gown and talent sections. During the heyday of her husband's protracted rule, from 1965 to 1986, she was also a disco queen, hitting the floors at gilded international night spots, which, thanks to her, included the roof of the palace she occupied in Manila. Mr. Byrne has said he thought that the "hedonistic and transcendent" nature of disco might capture "some of what a powerful person is feeling." Hence a score that feels like the aural equivalent of amyl nitrite.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: Director Alex Timbers' ingenious staging puts the audience in the middle the action. Be ready to move and groove with the ace ensemble led by Jose Llana as Ferdinand Marcos, Conrad Ricamora as Ninoy and the incandescent Ruthie Ann Miles as the Philippine First Lady.
Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: Besides the great songs, with music by Byrne and Fatboy Slim and lyrics by Byrne - the alluring title number might become permanently lodged in your brain - there's inventive choreography by Annie-B Parson, eye-catching, quick-change costumes designed by Clint Ramos, Justin Townsend's atmospheric lighting scheme and David Korins' remarkably engineered mobile stage sections.
Matt Windman, amNY: As inventively staged by wunderkind director Alex Timbers ("Rocky," "Peter and the Starcatcher"), "Here Lies Love" is a high-energy, immersive experience not unlike "Sleep No More" and "Fuerza Bruta" where audience members stand throughout the show and can freely move around. But it is also a smart, edgy musical about a celebrity-seeking political leader, her rags-to-riches journey, the corruption of her regime and her relationship with those around her. In essence, "Here Lies Love" is a discotheque revamp of "Evita."
Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski