Broadway’s Here Lies Love plans to perform without live musicians

This story has been updated to include a new statement from the creative team at Here lies love.

here lies love, already planning to make history with Broadway’s first all-Filipino cast, appears to be making history elsewhere: the orchestra pit. According to a report in The New York Times and confirmed by Playbill, the upcoming Fatboy Slim-David Byrne musical is currently planning to perform without live musicians, choosing instead to use pre-recorded tracks for backing. The move is a watershed moment for musical theater on Broadway, with the production set to possibly become the first major Main Stem musical to dispense with live music when previews open June 17 at the Broadway Theater.

The musical, according to production spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown, has always been presented with tracks since it was conceived in 2006. In a statement to Playbill, Bryan-Brown calls the choice “part of the karaoke genre inherent in the musical and the production concept. .” here lies love contains an electronic and disco-inspired score.

“music for here lies love was inspired by the phenomenon of ‘floor acts,’ which allowed the club crowd to keep dancing, as this production intends to do,” Bryan-Brown continues.

Unsurprisingly, the decision has drawn criticism from Broadway musicians. The president and CEO of American Federation of Musicians Local 802 (the union representing Broadway instrumentalists), Tino Gagliardi, told The New York Times: “[W]We are not going to sit idly by and let this happen. It’s not fair to the public.”

Our request for comment from union representatives was not responded to at the time of publication. But AFM is circulating a petition, urging signatories to “say NO to canned music on Broadway” and calling here lies love “a direct attack on the Broadway audience, a direct attack on New York’s professional musicians, and a direct attack on the long tradition of live music on Broadway.”

AFM normally enforces orchestra minimums set for each individual Broadway theater, which depends on the size of the theater: the minimum at the Broadway Theater is 19 musicians. Productions that wish to use less than the minimum of their theater can request a special permit from the union or hire members of the AFM who do not play as if they were part of the pit. The first situation is much more common on Broadway, where in recent years we have seen shows like American Psycho assembled with only three accredited musicians and a conductor. And last year k-pop he only had four musicians in his pit.

The use of pre-recorded tracks is not entirely without precedent. Contact, which won Best Musical at the 2000 Tony Awards, was performed entirely to pre-existing pre-recorded tracks, although the production’s designation as a musical rather than a dance performance drew criticism from many in the industry, as that there was no live singing. More recently, the also-dance-heavy The little Prince no live musicians, however, as Contactthe piece was not what most would call a traditional musical theater production.

here lies love it would stand alone as the first undisputed musical theater production on Broadway not to use live musicians.

The development is the latest in a long battle between the producers and AFM over the size of the Broadway pits. Since the development of electronic keyboards, which can complement other players or directly replace multiple players with a single keyboard player, AFM has fought to keep the great pit orchestras of yesteryear alive. Great orchestras like the ones we are currently seeing with camelot and Sweeney Todd (both, it’s worth noting, revivals of beloved titles with audience interest) have become the exception rather than the norm. It has been suggested that The Phantom of the OperaThe sheer size of the orchestra is one reason the full-length production was closed. The West End version returned after the COVID-19 lockdown with a new, drastically reduced orchestra that relies more on keyboard instrument replacement and augmentation, an orchestration that is expected to also be used in any potential Broadway comeback for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.

The use of sequencing platforms like Ableton in recent years has further muddied the waters. Productions using Ableton (which on Broadway includes hamilton and SIX, among others) can program pre-recorded material that would normally be played on a keyboard or other instruments, allowing one operator to handle much more material than when a single musician plays a keyboard. The platform has caught on with the rise of modern pop music on Broadway, as a way to mimic the seemingly endless layers that occur in studio recording. But the tool has the ability to go further and directly replace musicians.

READ: How Ableton is redefining how we bring pop music to Broadway

Even with previews about two weeks away, here lies love it continues to be involved in a “contract review process” with AFM, and has asked the union for a waiver of the minimum. Typical union considerations for this designation include “the musical concept expressed by the composer and/or orchestrator, whether the production is of a definable musical genre other than a traditional Broadway musical, and the production concept expressed by the director and/or orchestrator.” or choreographer.”

In a letter sent to its members, Local 802 writes that, “As provided in the collective bargaining agreement between Local 802 and the Broadway League (Article 5, Section G), producers must defend any attempt to hire less than required minimum to a “Special Situation” Panel Panel consists of representatives from Local 802, League and includes neutrals, not affiliated with either party Production is reviewed and panel votes to determine if reduction is allowed of the orchestra. If the parties do not accept the decision, it is submitted to arbitration”.

Update: In response to the social media outcry, the creative team at here lies love has posted a statement on Instagram defending his artistic decision, saying that “the performance of live vocals on pre-recorded artificial tracks is paramount to his artistic concept.” He went on to say that the show is trying to transform the Broadway theater “into a nightclub, with all theatergoers immersed in the experience. In many ways, here lies loveWe are pioneering this kind of immersion in a dance club floor on Broadway.” The production also added that, “here lies love is on Broadway because Broadway must create a space for creative work that pushes boundaries.”

Although synth-based sounds are an important part of an electronic and pop score, it should be noted that other pop-based shows on Broadway have also been able to use live musicians along with synths and backing tracks, such as and juliet, k-popand the next once upon a time. read the full here lies love statement below.

Based on a true story, here lies love follows Imelda Marcos, whose husband, Ferdinand Marcos, was the 10th President of the Philippines and ruled as a dictator for 20 years until 1986. During his regime, Philippine Senator Ninoy Aquino was the main critic of the Marcos family until he was assassinated in 1983 His murder woke people up. Power Revolution, which led to the removal of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos from power.

The musical is scheduled to begin previews at the Broadway Theater on June 17, with opening night scheduled for July 20. Arielle Jacobs stars as Imelda Marcos, with Jose Llana as Ferdinand Marcos and Conrad Ricamora as Ninoy Aquino.

Salonga will play Aurora Aquino in a limited guest engagement from July 11 to August 13. Aurora is the mother of Ninoy Aquino. After her run, guest stars from the Philippines will take on the role. Both Llana and Ricamora reprise their performances from the musical’s Off-Broadway run.

The musical features a score by Grammy, Tony and Oscar winner David Byrne and Grammy winner Fatboy Slim, with music by both and concept and lyrics by Byrne. Returning to the project is original director Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge) and choreographer Annie-B Parson. The foursome, led by Timbers, have developed the musical over the course of a decade. Tom Gandey and J Pardo will also contribute additional music to the production, which will feature an immersive dance club performance in the newly reconfigured theater.

here lies love led by José Llana, Arielle Jacobs and Conrad Ricamora
Harold Julian

After its original off-Broadway run in 2013 at The Public, here lies love it ran at the National Theater in London in 2014 and at the Seattle Rep in 2017. Each production received a variety of responses, and conversations have erupted again on social media as attention returns to the musical with the upcoming Broadway run. In response to online criticism, the official here lies love Broadway accounts on Twitter and Instagram posted a lengthy statement that included the production’s intentions to portray this vulnerable moment in Philippine history on stage in 2023. Read more here.

Alex Timbers’ creative team will include choreographer Parson, music director J. Oconer Navarro, Tony-nominated set designer David Korins, Tony-winning costume designer Clint Ramos, Tony-winning lighting designer Justin Townsend, designers sound designer ML Dogg and Cody Spencer, Tony nominated projection designer Peter Nigrini, cultural and community liaison Giselle “G” Töngi and music director J. Oconer Navarro. The casting is in charge of Tara Rubin, Xavier Rubiano and Gail Quintos. Bobby Garcia served as a casting consultant. The general direction will be in charge of Foresight Theatrical


See for the first time how Here Lies Love is reshaping Broadway theater