HERE LIES LOVE On Broadway Responds To Opposition Over Use Of Pre-Recorded Music

Local 802 has stated that its contract with the Broadway League requires the use of 19 musicians for musicals at the Broadway Theater.

By: May. 30, 2023
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The minds behind the upcoming musical Here Lies Love have responded to opposition over the use of pre-recorded music as part of the upcoming Broadway production.

Earlier today, it was reported that Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians is opposing Here Lies Love's plans to stage the Broadway production with recorded instrumental tracks instead of a live band. There are no full-time instrumentalists employed by the production.

Local 802 has stated that its contract with the Broadway League requires the use of 19 musicians for musicals at the Broadway Theater. The number of musicians required under the contract differs based on the size of the theater.

A statement released by the production reads:

"Since the HERE LIES LOVE was first conceived seventeen years ago, every production (2013 Public Theatre, 2014 off-Broadway return at the Public, 2014 National Theatre, and 2017 Seattle Rep), has been performed to pre-recorded track; this is part of the karaoke genre inherent to the musical and the production concept.  The music for HERE LIES LOVE was inspired by the phenomena of “track acts” which allowed club audiences to keep dancing, much like this production aims to do.

HERE LIES LOVE has received rave reviews, played to sold-out houses and won numerous awards, including The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music & Lyrics; The Obie Award for Outstanding Music & Lyrics and a nomination for an Outstanding Achievement from London’s Olivier Awards.

The Broadway collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Local 802, the musicians’ union, includes detailed guidelines and procedures that give the union the opportunity to review a production’s request for “special situation” status in determining the number of musicians mandated by 802 for a show.  

In a process that is not without precedent, a production that qualifies as a “special situation” is permitted under the CBA to engage less than the number of musicians otherwise required under the CBA for a particular theater. 

Considerations for “special situation” that are met by HERE LIES LOVE include (i) the musical concept expressed by the composer and/or orchestrator; (ii) whether the production is of a definable musical genre different from a traditional Broadway musical; (iii) the production concept expressed by the director and/or choreographer.

Following the Broadway announcement at the beginning of the year, the Broadway League contacted the Local 802 to start this contractual review process for HERE LIES LOVE in full.  There have been multiple meetings with the union to review in detail the basis for applying for “special situation” status. The Union has been able to ask questions, receive information about the production, and voice their concerns. This process is on-going and may ultimately culminate in a final and binding arbitration decision, but until that time, we will continue to work in good faith with the union to move through the steps of the contractual process."

In addition to the statement, the production's social media now features a post detailing the show's inspirations, concept, process and intentions, as many theatre fans have taken to socials to express their dismay over the dispute. 



Tino Gagliardi, Local 802 president and executive director stated, "A show with no live music and just pre-recorded tracks is absolutely an existential threat to Broadway- and is a cultural threat to musical theater worldwide. For generations, audiences have experienced Broadway shows with live music performed by the best musicians in the world, and by using just pre-recorded tracks it not only cheapens the art it’s putting jobs and livelihoods at risk. Our musicians are heartbroken that David Byrne - a legend  - is attempting this and we strongly hope he reconsiders."

Here Lies Love, the musical from the minds of Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award winner David Byrne (concept, music and lyrics) and Grammy Award winner Fatboy Slim (music), begins performances Saturday, June 17 ahead of an official opening night on Thursday, July 20. Here Lies Love features the first all-Filipino cast to perform on Broadway.

Here Lies Love tells the story of Imelda Marcos' rise to power and subsequent fall at the hands of the Philippine People Power Revolution. Developed & directed by Tony Award winner Alex Timbers, with choreography by Olivier Award nominee Annie-B Parson, Here Lies Love will transform the Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway at 53rd Street) into a dance club where the audience is immersed in the story on the dance floor or in traditional theater seating. 


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