Here Lies Love (musical)

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Here Lies Love
MusicDavid Byrne
Fatboy Slim
LyricsDavid Byrne
BasisHere Lies Love
by David Byrne
Fatboy Slim
Productions2013 The Public Theatre, New York
2014 The Public Theatre, New York
2014 Royal National Theatre, London
2017 Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle

Here Lies Love is a biographical "poperreta" musical, based on the concept music album by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim. The concept album is based on David Byrne's research on the life of former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos.


Here Lies Love premiered off Broadway at The Public Theater in New York City in 2013 under the direction of Alex Timbers. It starred Ruthie Ann Miles in the lead role, with Jose Llana as Ferdinand Marcos and Conrad Ricamora as Ninoy Aquino. The production played an extended run at the Public before closing in August 2013. It returned for an open-ended commercial run again at the Public in April 2014. It closed at the Public on January 4, 2015. The production won five Lucille Lortel Awards in 2014.

The musical, directed once again by Timbers, opened at the Royal National Theatre in September 2014, and played a limited, sold-out run through January 2015 at the Royal's newly renovated Dorfman Theatre. The London-based production was nominated for three Olivier Awards in 2015 (Best New Musical, Outstanding Achievement in Music, and Best Theatre Choreographer).

A revamped production from the original Off-Broadway creative team, with the intention of recreating the immersive elements in a proscenium theater, was staged at the Seattle Repertory Theater from April 7 to June 18, 2017 (extended from May 28 after strong ticket sales). Notable returning actors included Conrad Ricamora and Melody Butiu reprising their roles from the original Off-Broadway cast as Ninoy Aquino and Estrella Cumpas, respectively, Mark Bautista from the London cast reprising his role as Ferdinand Marcos, and replacement actor Jaygee Macapugay reprising her role as Imelda Marcos from the Off-Broadway cast.



As clubbers get inside Club Millennium, the DJ sets up the party with music and with Imelda Marcos motif. The DJ instructs the clubbers to enjoy the party as they watch the club's staff reenacting the life of Imelda Marcos through the club's music. The club ensemble comes in ("American Troglodyte") and performs.

Act 1[edit]

Imelda Romualdez is shown as a poor lass in stormy Leyte ("Here Lies Love") with best friend Estrella. Ninoy Aquino comes out of the stage and tells of his background ("Child of the Philippines") and his endearment to Imelda. However, Ninoy ("Opposite Attraction") is apprehensive of having to be in a relationship with Imelda due to their differences. While Ninoy wants to be in politics, Imelda shows only a penchant for love and beauty. Imelda eventually joins a beauty pageant ("Rose of Tacloban") around the same time that Ferdinand Marcos is becoming even more famous ("A Perfect Hand"). Soon, Ferdinand and Imelda meet each other and start dating ("Eleven Days") and kiss each other at the end of the number. Afterwards, Ferdinand and Imelda are married in a ceremony while Estrella ("When She Passed By") watches from afar, reminiscing their past. Ferdinand and Imelda ("Sugartime Baby") go into their honeymoon and Imelda realizes how she should become a perfect wife to the Senator in exchange of Ferdinand pulling her out of poverty ("Walk Like a Woman"). Afterwards, Imelda and Ferdinand ("Don't You Agree? / Pretty Face") start campaigning and ending up winning. Now sitting in Malacañang, ("Dancing Together") Imelda has been spearheading lavish parties and celebrations in the palace while under medication - the price she paid for marrying a busy statesman. In response to the parties and construction projects, the now Senator Ninoy Aquino leads ("Fabulous One") the opposition with great rhetoric. Imelda is surprised by this act from Ninoy ("Men Will Do Anything") and about the same time that Ferdinand gets into a romantic affair with Dovie Beams.

Act 2[edit]

Imelda shows a fiercer side of herself after the gaffes ("Star and Slave") and has vented out her anger against a sickly Ferdinand who is asking for forgiveness from her ("Poor Me") - Imelda claims she will be the one running the country, now that Ferdinand is sick. Apparently, the people do not like what was happening to the Philippines ("Please Don't") under Imelda's leadership; but she is doing crisis control by showcasing international leaders. Unfortunately, Estrella does a tell-all interview ("Solano Avenue") which results into a confrontation between her and old friend Imelda, where she offers Estrella money. When Estrella refuses, Imelda has her imprisoned. Due to growing numbers of riots ("Riots and Bombs") in Manila, Ferdinand declares Martial Law ("Order 1081") and the ensemble sings of their experiences and suffering: among them is Ninoy, who grows so vocal he is imprisoned. Imelda visits Ninoy in his cell and tells him he should go to the United States and never come back ("Seven Years"). Ninoy goes to the United States but returns ("Gate 37") only to be assassinated on the tarmac. Ninoy's mother, Aurora ("Just Ask the Flowers") vents about her son's death and encourages the people to revolt. Watching her popularity and support crumble before her, Imelda bemoans her loss as an image of Estrella angrily criticizes her ("Why Don't You Love Me?"). The situation in the Philippines now out of their control, Imelda and Ferdinand are evacuated from the palace by helicopter, bringing their regime to an end.


The actress who played Imelda comes out and introduces the next number. The DJ comes down from his booth and sings about the story of the People Power Revolution while playing his guitar ("God Draws Straight"). The rest of the ensemble returns to do one last song and dance with the clubbers for the curtain call ("Here Lies Love (Reprise)").

Musical numbers[edit]


  • Imelda Marcos - a provincial lass who became the wife of Senator Ferdinand Marcos; consequently becomes First Lady
  • Ferdinand Marcos - the longest-serving President of the Philippines who puts the Philippines under Martial Law from 1972 - 1981
  • Ninoy Aquino - a scion of the rich and political Aquino clan, the staunchest leader of the opposition party during the Marcos administration
  • Estrella Cumpas - Imelda's best friend and nanny
  • DJ - encourages the audience to dance and interacts with them throughout the show, revealed to be one of the revolutionaries towards the end who sings "God Draws Straight"


Role Off-Broadway Premiere (The Public Theater) The Public Theater, New York 2014 Royal National Theater, London 2014 Seattle, 2017
Imelda Marcos Ruthie Ann Miles Natalie Mendoza Jaygee Macapugay
Ferdinand Marcos Jose Llana Mark Bautista
Ninoy Aquino Conrad Ricamora Dean John-Wilson Conrad Ricamora
Estrella Cumpas Melody Butiu Gia Macuja Atchison Melody Butiu
DJ Kelvin Moon Loh Martin Sarreal Tobias Christian Wong

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Off-Broadway production[edit]

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
2013 Drama League Award Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Projection Design Peter Nigrini Won
Outstanding Music David Byrne & Fatboy Slim Won
Henry Hewes Design Award Notable Effect in Projection Design Peter Nigrini Won
Obie Award Outstanding Music and Lyrics David Byrne & Fatboy Slim Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical Won
2014 Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Director Alex Timbers Won
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical Ruthie Ann Miles Won
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical Jose Llana Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Melody Butiu Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Annie-B Parson Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design Clint Ramos Won
Outstanding Scenic Design David Korins Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Justin Townsend Won
Outstanding Sound Design M.L. Dogg & Cody Spencer Won

Original West End production[edit]

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
2015 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Music David Byrne & Fatboy Slim Nominated
Best Theatre Choreography Annie-B Parson Nominated

Critical response[edit]

Generally described as innovative, Here Lies Love challenges tradition by becoming an immersive show that utilizes much audience engagement and inventive set design that transforms theatre into a disco ballroom adorned by horizontal screens and neon accents.

Alice Kaderlan writes "rarely has a show that gets this much advance PR met my expectations, but I was totally captivated from the production’s opening moments. The story is a little slim and there are no great insights about Imelda but the infectious, pulsating music (by Byrne and Fatboy Slim) and dazzling production design make for a snappy, nonstop 90 minutes.

Jeffrey Hannan says, "Narrative structure and character development are inviolable necessities in good theatre and Here Lies Love doesn't cheat in that regard. Despite any preconceived notions of Imelda Marcos you may harbor upon arrival, as the 90 minute event unfolds, you are demanded to see this as a story not of the somewhat laughable icon presented by American media but of a woman. And her husband. And his rival. And other core characters who give humanity to the terrible as well as tabloid headlines."

Vulture's Jesse Green states that while it is an accumulation of static disco songs, "something wonderful is also going on."[1]

Not all reviews were positive. Actress Sara Porkalob characterizes the production as having "failed to realize that Imelda was a formidable political figure in her own right. She was a crucial and knowing player in her husband's domestic and foreign policies and was not fashionable innocent, formed only by the men in her life, as the play makes her out to be."[2]


  1. ^ "Theater Review: Imelda is More Than a Woman in Here Lies Love".
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-02-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]