Seattle Repertory Theatre has announced that “Here Lies Love,” the immersive-style disco musical by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim about Imelda Marcos, will be extended to June 18. (Navid Baraty)
Written by Brendan Kiley
“Here Lies Love,” a musical by David Byrne about Imelda Marcos that’s now at Seattle Repertory Theatre has been extended until June 18 — and Rep spokeswoman Michelle Sanders Leyva says the theater’s high-stakes gamble is already paying off.
The Rep says “Here Lies Love” is its most expensive production ever, although it wouldn’t name a dollar figure. But Leyva said Thursday that it’s also become the best-selling show in Seattle Rep history.
“It has already sold more in these few weeks than any other show has over the course of its entire run,” she said.
The show began previews on April 7; its closing date was originally scheduled for May 28.
The Byrne musical (a collaboration with Fatboy Slim) hasn’t yet passed the benchmark for single-ticket sales set by the Tony Award-nominated Seattle Rep coproduction “Come From Away.” But Leyva said it is on track to break that record, too.
“We just haven’t been running long enough and the first weeks of the run were front-loaded with subscribers.”
Strong single-ticket sales would be a reassuring signal that the Rep has succeeded in its expensive, ambitious gamble with “Here Lies Love”: a gambit to woo new audiences with an immersive-style, disco-floor musical about the agony and the ecstasy of the Marcos era in Filipino politics, and to shake up The Rep’s longstanding reputation as one of Seattle’s stuffier theaters. Imelda and her husband, Ferdinand, rose to power as populists but led opulent lifestyles and imposed martial law to suppress dissent.
Byrne said he was inspired to set the musical in a disco because Imelda had one built on the top floor of the presidential palace in Manila. “She had this kind of music soundtrack on all the time.” For an audience, he said, “being in that milieu has some significance … Someone who’s powerful, behaves in outlandish, bigger-than-life ways — what motivates them?”
Filipina activist Cindy Domingo, who was part of the anti-Marcos movement,wrote in a Crosscut article that she hopes “Here Lies Love” audiences will be inspired to learn more about the tens of thousands of people who were imprisoned, tortured and killed during the double-decade Marcos regime — despite the show’s chipper, ’70s-dance-floor aesthetic.
“Some say the play doesn’t go far enough,” Domingo wrote, “or that we Filipinos need to write our own stories. Both are true but in the meantime, ‘Here Lies Love’ opens the door in a very populist way to a history that most do not remember or know about.”
Either way, it seems like Seattle Rep’s gamble on the most financially ambitious production in its history might pay off.