David Byrne's "Here Lies Love" Opens at NYC's Public Theater; "Must-See Event of the Season"
The new musical of Here Lies Love, which explores the life of former Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos, with concept and lyrics by David Byrne and music by Byrne and Fatboy Slim, officially opened at the Public Theater's LuEsther Theater in New York City last week and, originally slated to run to May 5 and subsequently extended twice, has now been extended yet again to run through June 30. The production, directed by Alex Timbers of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Peter and the Starcatcher fame, premiered to a slew of rave reviews and has been nominated for Outer Critics Circle and Drama League awards.
In Here Lies Love, David Byrne and iconic deejay-composer Fatboy Slim tell the story of Imelda Marcos's meteoric rise and subsequent descent into infamy, all within a throbbing dance club environment. In 2010, Nonesuch Records released a double-disc recording of the song cycle of Here Lies Love, featuring a who’s who of indie rockers, dancefloor divas, and established stars, including Tori Amos, Steve Earle, Cyndi Lauper, Natalie Merchant, Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine, Santigold, and St. Vincent. Now, in the immersive spectacle of the Here Lies Love stage production at the Public Theater combines disco beats, choreography by Annie-B Parson, and a 360-degree scenic and video environment, all the while moving beyond Marcos's oft-discussed obsession with shoes to explore questions of power and responsibility.
New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley implores readers to "boogie on down—and you must—to the glittery new dance palace at the Public Theater." He describes this "exciting new poperetta" as a "heady show about the heady life of Mrs. Marcos—which has been staged with infinite inventiveness by Alex Timbers and one of the hardest-working tech crews in town." Byrne and Fatboy Slim, says Brantley, have written "an insidiously infectious set of songs." Read the complete review at nytimes.com.
Vogue's Adam Green calls Here Lies Love "a life-giving, roof-raising, booty-shaking blast of pure joy from start to finish. You will have a blissed-out smile on your face and your hips will remain in perpetual motion throughout the entire 90 minutes of this immersive, swiftly paced boogie through twentieth-century Philippine politics, directed with a combination of youthful exuberance and polished professionalism by the sensational Alex Timbers, who confirms his reputation—and then some—as one of the brightest theatrical lights of his generation."
Green goes on to say of Byrne: "With his infectious score for Here Lies Love, he shows that he knows how to write songs that can serve a piece of musical theater—revealing character, advancing plot—while still standing on their own as potential club hits. The songs—and the show itself—are stamped with Byrne’s trademark push-pull between cool reserve and wild abandon. There is also a sweetness, yearning, melancholy, and passion in them that have at most been only hinted at in his past work."
Read the complete review at vogue.com.
Entertainment Weekly gives the musical a perfect A grade. "Here Lies Love's most remarkable achievement is managing to tell a story about political corruption and popular empowerment without being heavy-handed," writes reviewer Kyle Anderson. "That's a testament to not only the excellent source material but also the performers, all of whom are vocally strong—an impressive feat considering the original album featured iconic voices like Cyndi Lauper, Florence Welch, Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, and Byrne himself."
Anderson later suggests that Here Lies Love is more than the special nature of its immersive production. "The unusual presentation will grab headlines for Here Lies Love, but it's no gimmick—the show's narrative center is so strong and its infectious melodic spirit so complete that it could easily work in a traditional theater setting (or in the round, on a street corner, or in your living room). The fact that you can sweat right along with the incredible cast is a happy-footed bonus."
Read the A review at ew.com.
The New York Daily News gives Here Lies Love a perfect five stars. "Finally—a new musical that’s so exhilarating and such a great time that it’s easy to recommend it without hesitation. So let’s hear it for Here Lies Love," exclaims reviewer Joe Dziemianowicz.
"Those crazy people at the Public really know how to have fun," writes Variety's Marilyn Stasio, calling Here Lies Love "an exuberant musical," in which "Alex Timbers has transformed dainty Lu Esther Hall into a dance club environment that is pure pleasure pit ... The irresistibly danceable music, which starts with an innocent (not to say saccharine) ballad and whips itself into a disco frenzy, is what tears up the house." Read the review at variety.com.
Newsday calls it "spectacular, with reviewer Glenn Gamboa concluding: "Here Lies Love is inventive and glamorous, a must-see experience made even more worthwhile by the hopefulness and sweetness at its core."
The New York Observer declares Here Lies Love "the must-see event of the season." Reviewer Jesse Oxfeld describes it as "an eye-popping, head-bopping, immersive theater experience ... It’s emotionally rich and deeply engaging." Oxefeld goes on to say: "Here Lies Love is exciting, unexpected and an awful lot of fun."
Here Lies Love is "completely wild, original and irresistible," says the Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney, with "a madly infectious score ... If you don’t leave with the karaoke chorus of the title track (words suggested by Imelda for her epitaph) grafted onto your brain, get your hearing tested." Rooney concludes of last week's premiere: "I can’t imagine a more invigorating tonic than seeing this show on the final intensive weekend that closes out the 2012-13 theater season."
Bloomberg News gives the production four stars. Here Lies Love is "the most engaging and provocative new musical of the season," raves reviewer Jeremy Gerard, featuring "an addictively listenable—and danceable—score."
Weighing in from the UK, the Guardian gives four stars to this all-too-rare foray for Byrne into the world of musical theater. "Here Lies Love—a vigorous, intelligent, and helplessly danceable song cycle—makes you wish he'd embraced the form earlier and rather more often," writes the Guardian's Alexis Soloski. "And dance you will. Those Fatboy Slim beats are infectious and Byrne's production is designed to leave you in high spirits."
For details on the theatrical production, visit publictheater.org. To pick up a copy of the 2010 Nonesuch recording of Here Lies Love, head to the Nonesuch Store, where orders include an instant download of the album at checkout.
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