When the disco ball rises up high signaling that the party has begun, Here Lies Lovedances up strong and spectacularly, moving us, and all those souls on the dance floor of the Broadway Theatre, around and all the way back to the Philippines. It’s an impressively demanding beginning, welcomed with enthusiasm by the magnetic DJ Moses Villarama (off-Broadway’s Cambodian Rock Band), who is taking us all for a spin back to 1945 to investigate, and possibly try to understand the notoriously criminal Imelda Marcos, played to perfection by Arielle Jacobs (off-Broadway’s Between the Lines) and those people that shared the spotlight with her during those infamous years. It’s a complicated undertaking, this examination, as the woman, and her husband, the president-turned-dictator Ferdinand Marcos lived a life fueled by over two decades of corruption, violence, scandal, and human rights abuses, ending in a dramatic airlift out of the country in 1986.
“Why don’t you love me?” she eventually asks. And like the epic musical, Evita, Here Lies Love, created with a strong vision by the musicians David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, searches through her origin story for clues as to what made this woman, who once addressed the Filipino people with a similar refrain, the monster she soon became. A refrain title song that I can’t seem to get out of my head for days after seeing the immersive musical. As the opening number, “Here Lies Love“, sung strong in the center of this radically transformed theatre, rises up to the masses, we feel history becoming alive in front of us, unwrapping the terrible slice of Marcos’ violent reign to a strong beat. It’s an impressive beginning, one that shepherds the emotional core forward to the bitter ending.
As directed with force by Alex Timbers (Broadway’s Moulin Rouge!) and backed by music director J. Oconer Navarro’s (RTC’s Caroline, or Change) solid sound, the structured history lesson comes surprisingly alive, delivering its tale with clarity and vision. Imelda rises up before us, into something oozing with glamour and a warped idea of popularity, structured infectiously by manipulation and sly tactics. All to the seductive beats that ricochet around the space magnificently constructed by set designer David Korins (Broadway’s Beetlejuice).
The space miraculously swims and flows like turbulent water around a yacht bedazzled with a power-hungry insistence to pay attention and worship the madness of the Marcos regime. As the raised platforms rotate and ride the waves of history, Here Lies Love unpacks the problematic scenario with eye-popping delight, brought to life by the exceptional lighting design by Justin Townsend (Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill), sound design by both M.L. Dogg (fringeNYC’s Go-Go Kitty, GO!) and Cody Spencer (off-Broadway Broadway Bounty Hunter), and the spectacularly well-defined projection design by Peter Migrini (Broadway’s SpongeBob Musical). The unveiling, especially for those not entirely in the know, is captivatingly telling, even when a bit vague or simplified for consumption, but, as I was told by another in the audience who has a closer connection to their country’s history, the show hits the gut hard and emotional, much like the night when Hillary lost (electorally), and that Orange Monster became President. And I totally get how that could be, especially with the present state of political affairs in the Phillippines.
Imelda Marcos, from the get-go, demands to be seen and heard, espousing her love for beauty early on in anthems rich in superficial romance and adoration, with additional music supplied by Tom Gandey and José Luis Pardo. She rises up from the cleverly orchestrated small-town beauty queen contest, with sumptuous costumes deliciously designed by producer/designer/creative consultant Clint Ramos (Broadway’s KPOP). After a brief affair with the future oppositional leader, Ninoy Aquino, magnetically portrayed with power by the compelling and handsome Conrad Ricamora (“Fire Island“), she moves on to bigger and seemingly better things. Like a certain Eva Peron did in Argentina, she made her way to a more powerful man on the rise, the young Senator Ferdinand Marcos, perfectly played with compromised charm by the very good Jose Llana (LCT’s The King and I) who connected more to thirst for power and attention. The rest, as you would say, is history, horrific and violent, but history, nonetheless.
Shimmering and sauntering with a certain over-the-top style through the mostly musical 90-minute production, Here Lies Love rarely falters in its sharply constructed honeymoon tour, giving pills for love and glamourous hairdos to the heavens, thanks to the spectacular work by hair designer Craig Franklin Miller (Apple TV+’s “Dickinson“) with strong makeup design by Suki Tsujimoto (Broadway’s Dancin’). The visuals live strong, depicting the rise and greed for the spotlight in Studio 54 fashion. The critical point of view of Marcos’ horrific legacy is projected with force all around us, just like the choreography by Annie-B Parson (“David Byrne’s American Utopia” film), giving energy and enlightenment of their politics and deceitful ways epically and emphatically.
The crimes of Marcos’ power grab are huge, wide, immense, and disturbing, which aren’t as clear as could be in this short sharp disco-pop treatment of the dictator and his wife, but the residuals leave their mark, haunting you as you walk out of the pink-lit interior lobby of the Broadway Theatre. Here Lies Love, originally produced off-Broadway back in 2013 at the Public Theater, is a compelling warning, ultimately, one that scratches with a pop rhythm on the skin as we take in what happened recently in the Phillippines with Imelda’s son, Bongbong Marcos, being elected president regardless of the family’s history, as well as a certain multiple indicted former President that leads the pack in the GOP primaries. When will we open our eyes to what is standing before us? Or is the party too much fun to pay attention to the underlying details and possible threat of American fascism and dictatorship? Take note, cause no matter how much fun the Here Lies Love party rocks us all, the repercussions are immense and leave their disturbing mark on us all.
For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
Sunday’s Broadway Forever Concert Postponed Until October 15
Today, Broadway Forever announced that the Sunday, September 24th concert will be postponed to Sunday, October 15th at 11:00AM due to expected severe weather in New York City. The Sunday, October 15th concert will take place at Lou Gehrig Plaza in the Bronx (East 161st Street, Grandview Place).
A complete line up of appearances and performances will be announced soon.
For the second consecutive year, NY Forever, in partnership with City National Bank, the New York City Department of Transportation and 161st Street Business Improvement District presents Broadway Forever,empowering New Yorkers across the city to build a better city for all.
Fans will have the opportunity to sign up for future community service opportunities in all five boroughs, which will be coordinated by New York Cares and their partner organizations.
Broadway stars performing throughout New York City celebrate the creativity and resilience that is intrinsic to the city – and provide an opportunity to recognize the volunteers and community organizers who work hard to make New York a better place. The concerts will bring Broadway entertainment to DOT’s Public Space Programming, a city initiative that brings free activities to public spaces.
The events are produced and staged by 6W Entertainment, with additional support from New York Cares and the Times Square Alliance.
For more information about City National, visit the company’s website at cnb.com.
Theatre News: Wicked, The Wiz, Hypnotique, Female Troubles and Love In The Time Of Crazy
Broadway’s blockbuster Wicked, in partnership with National Day Calendar, has announced that October 30 will officially become National Wicked Day, in honor of the hit Broadway musical’s debut at the Gershwin Theatre (245 West 51st Street) on October 30, 2003.
This marks the first time that a Broadway show will have its own official day in the National Day Calendar. With this inclusion, Wicked joins some of the most recognizable National Day celebrations, including National Barbie Day, National Star Trek Day, National Scrabble Day, National Winnie the Pooh Day, and National Teacher Appreciate Day, among others.
Read the official announcement HERE.
Currently Wicked 4th longest-running show in Broadway history, and will celebrate its 20th Anniversary on Broadway this October 30th.
The Broadway production of Wicked currently features Alyssa Fox as Elphaba, McKenzie Kurtz as Glinda, John Dossett as The Wizard, Michele Pawk as Madame Morrible, Jordan Litz as Fiyero, Jake Pedersen as Boq, Kimber Elayne Sprawl as Nessarose, and William Youmans as Doctor Dillamond.
Emmy Award®-winning music director and Grammy Award®-winning writer, Adam Blackstone, joins the creative team as Dance Music Arranger for the revival of The Wiz. The Wiz will launch a national tour on September 23, 2023 in Baltimore, MD before returning to Broadway for a limited engagement in the 2023/24 season.
“Joining The Wiz’s creative team has been a very surreal moment. I remember watching the film on VHS daily for years, wondering how it sounded so incredible, how MJ transformed into the Scarecrow, and the score and orchestrations truly told a story all of its own. Fast forward to today, I get to musically partner with Terence Vaughn and reunite with my brother, super choreographer and creative director JaQuel Knight, and explore our own interpretation for a revival of this masterpiece. I am excited and look forward to this body of work changing lives, just like it did for me in the 80’s!” stated Adam Blackstone.
The cast will include previously announced Wayne Brady to lead the production as the Wiz on Broadway in Spring of 2024, San Francisco (January 16 – February 11, 2024) at the Golden Gate Theatre, and Los Angeles (February 13 – March 3, 2024) at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Alan Mingo Jr. will star in the role of the Wiz in the following cities of The Wiz National Tour this fall, kicking off with the tour launch in Baltimore, including Cleveland, OH, Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, PA, Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, Chicago, IL, Des Moines, IA, Tempe, AZ and San Diego, CA.
The cast will also feature Nichelle Lewis as Dorothy, Deborah Cox as Glinda and Melody A. Betts as Aunt Em and Evillene, Kyle Ramar Freeman as the Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson as the Tinman, and Avery Wilson as the Scarecrow. The Wiz ensemble includes Maya Bowles, Shayla Alayre Caldwell, Jay Copeland, Allyson Kaye Daniel, Judith Franklin, George, Collin Heyward, Amber Jackson, Jackson, Jones, Jones, Kindle, Mariah Lyttle, Kareem Marsh, Anthony Murphy, Rae, Matthew Sims Jr, Avilon Trust Tate, Keenan D. Washington, and Timothy Wilson.
The production will include ‘Everybody Rejoice’ music and lyrics by Luther Vandross, as well as the ‘Emerald City Ballet’ with music by Timothy Graphenreed.
The McKittrick Hotel (530 West 27th Street, NYC), home of Sleep No More, announced the opening of Hypnotique – A Late Night Sultry Spectacle. Performances have been extended on Friday and Saturday nights through October 14, 2023. The all-new Hypnotique revue offers a unique after-dark experience that envelops you. Audiences are captivated by spontaneous performances and mesmerizing dancers, accompanied by daring sonic soundscapes in a surreal ambiance in The Club Car.
The cast features Chloé Lexia Worthington, Courtney Sauls, Fabricio Seraphin, Haley Bjorn, Jacob Nahor, Jesseca Scott, Maurice Ivy, Maya Kitayama, Samantha Greenlund, Victoria Edwards, and swings Alex Sturtevant, Cameron Arnold, Kennedy Adams, and Stacey Badgett Jr..
Cocktails inspired by the experience, including the signature Hypnotonique (an electrifying punch made with cucumber-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, and grapefruit juice), are available from The Club Car’s bar.
Performances are offered on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30PM. General Admission tickets with standing room are currently priced from $65 per person.
Two industry readings for Female Troubles, an original musical comedy, will happen next week at Open Jar Studios. Female Troubles is a completely original musical comedy featuring lyrics by two-time Tony Award nominated and Grammy Award nominated songwriter Amanda Green (Mr. Saturday Night, Hands On A Hardbody, Bring It On), music by three-time Emmy Award nominee Curtis Moore (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), book by Emmy Award-winning writers Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden (“Veep,” “Arrested Development,” “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons,” “HouseBroken”) and directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli (Disney’s Newsies, My Fair Lady, “Schmigadoon,” “Schmicago”).
The cast for the readings will includeKrystina Alabado, Kevin Del Aguila, Amanda Green, Lilli Cooper, Lillias White, Lesli Margherita, Ryann Redmond, Kate Rockwell, Matt Saldivar, Alanna Saunders, Trent Saunders, Jake Swain, Sav Souza, Rachel Stern and Frank Viveros.In Female Troubles, Elinor Benton finds herself surprisingly and undeniably “knocked up” — and, since she’s unmarried and this is 19th century England, she has a very big dilemma. Facing ruin, she and her girlfriends embark on a raucous journey to find the one notorious woman who can help them with their “female troubles.” Their misadventures change the course of each of their lives. This uproarious musical comedy asks the trenchant question “Can you believe this sh*t is still happening in 1810?”
I attended the reading of Love In The Time Of Crazy withbook and lyrics by Peter Kellogg (Outer Critics Winner for Desperate Measures), music by Stephen Weiner (two-time Richard Rodgers Award winner) and David Hancock Turner (orchestrator for Desperate Measures and Penelope), directed by Lauren Molina (Desperate Measures ). The cast stared Philippe Arroyo, Stephen DeRosa, Robin Dunavant, David Merino, Josh Lamon, Roe Hartrampf and Alexis Cofield .
Love in the Time of Crazy is a riot, but, you know, in a good way.
The Glorious Corner
WENNER TAKES A DOWN —Jann Wenner always speaks his mind and this week he may have overstepped just a bit. In an interview that ran in the New York Times about his new book called Masters, he quite openly said that there were no black or R&B artists in it, because they were not able to articulate properly. I know, I felt the same way reading that. Minutes later, he was let go by the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he helped start with Ahmet Ertegun way back in 1983.
His Like A Rolling Stone autobiography book was quite an indulgent read last year, but Wenner has in the last several years suffered several health set backs and it was pointed out that he may not be in his right mind. Still, he should have spoken way more carefully. I’ve known Wenner for decades and trust me, he feels he’s way entitled, and that said, you can rest assured that there were dozens and dozens of people (and former employees) waiting to take him down.
The sad fact is that most of the accusations are true. That said, let’s face it Rolling Stone magazine in it’s heyday was a miraculous outlet for so much music and terrific journalism – from Ben Fong-Torres to Hunter Thompson and Jann himself .. it was distinguished. Now, he may have killed it all.
Rolling Stine magazine Monday posted this – essentially disowning his from the magazine: “Jann Wenner’s recent statements to the New York Times do not represent the values and practices of today’s Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner has not been directly involved in our operations since 2019. Our purpose, especially since his departure, has been to tell stories that reflect the diversity of voices and experiences that shape our world. At Rolling Stone’s core is the understanding that music above all can bring us together, not divide us.”
Here’s the report from Deadline: https://deadline.com/2023/09/jann-wenner-removed-rock-and-roll-hall-fame-foundation-board-1235548690/comment-page-1/#comment-3858649
DREW’S BLUES — Boy, what did Drew Barrymore ever do to deserve the treatment she’s been through with the media. Sure, her ideas to bring back her daily-chat fest was a good one, for the right reasons, but everyone from Rosie O;’Donnell to the trade papers have bounced on her like madmen. I never met her, don’t hate her, but really … let’s get back to something real, like these Russell Brand-accusations!
SHORT TAKES — We finally caught David Bryne and Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love and absolutely loved it. I remember it well when it premiered at the Public Theater way back when and knew they were trying to get it to Broadway. Honestly, I never thought twice about the Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos story, but the play was riveting then and it remains now. They’ve outfitted NYC’s magnificent Broadway Theater with disco-balls galore and club-lighting and the immersive experience is terrific. Here’s a great re-cap of the play’s evolution from Theatre Guide: https://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/theatre-news/news/how-the-music-of-here-lies-love-evolved-on-the-way-to-broadway …
Micky Dolenz appeared on Sunday’s Breakfast With The Beatles with Chris Carter (on KLOS) and talked about his new Dolenz Sings R.E.M. on Glenn Gretlund’s 7a Records. He also talked about his time with The Beatles and John Lennon. Carter also played a mash-up of Monkees and Beatle-songs which was done in England and it was superb. Here’s a shot from the event at LA’s Hard Rock Cafe on Highland and Hollywood Blvd. … SIGHTING: PR-pasha David Salidor and Benny Harrison at Monday’s Cutting Room tribute to Burt Bacharach … RIP Sammy Ash …
I’ve been thinking the best way to describe Jimmy Buffet and I saw this headline in LA Magazine: leisure evangelist– and it fits perfectly …
Happy Bday Donnie Kehr and Richard Branciforte.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash: Robbie Robertson; Carol Ruth Weber; Randy Alexander; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Andrew Gans; Kathy Brown; Roger Clark; Chris Boneau; Tricia Daniels; Dan Zelinski; Benny Harrison; Steve Walter; Gil Friesen; Donna Dolenz; Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash; and ZIGGY!
Inside the 2023 American Theatre Wing Gala
The American Theatre Wing 2023 Gala Celebration was held last night, September 11, 2023 at Cipriani 42nd Street. Performers incldued Oscar nominee & Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr., Grammy Award-winning rock icon Melissa Etheridge, Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess, “American Idol” star and Broadway favorite Justin Guarini, Tony Award winner LaChanze, Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper, and Tony Award nominees Shoshana Bean, Brandon Victor Dixon, Judy Kuhn, Lilli Cooper, and Eddie Cooper.
The Gala honored “Unsung Heroes of the Theatre Industry.” From dressers who execute seamless quick changes between scenes, to understudies and swings who go into a show with little to no notice and don’t miss a beat, to makeup artists responsible for the flawless faces seen on stage, and so many more vital contributors to the theatrical art form, the 2023 Gala celebrates members of the theatrical community who don’t often get the recognition they deserve.
The Glorious Corner
STRIKE UPDATE— (Via TV Line) “9-1-1, what’s your TV emergency?” The dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes need to be resolved by the end of this month if scripted primetime fare such as 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Cleaning Lady are to return with new episodes in the 2023-24 TV season, says Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn.
When last we tuned in, 29 days ago, the WGA had countered the AMPTP’s latest offer; no next meeting has been scheduled. Things are proceeding even slower on the SAG-AFTRA front. Sources tell TVLine that it will take scripted shows roughly eight weeks to get back into production once the strikes are resolved.
“You’re going get to a point in the fall, in the late fall, where it’s going to be very hard to launch [scripted shows] within the traditional TV viewing season,” Thorn told our sister site Deadline.
If the strikes are resolved later than October 1, that’s where difficult scheduling decisions will have to be made.
“If that means the [delayed scripted] show could work and succeed in the summer [of 2024], great,” Thorn said. Or, “If it’s better to wait for the fall and use football and sports” to promote/launch scripted seasons, “we’ll do that.
“You could use October 1 as the date” by which the writer and actor strikes need to be settled,” Thorn added. “Every show is different but sometimes when you’re staring at a May launch date, you always wonder, ‘Is that the best time?’” to premiere a season/series
Fox’s fall TV slate features one full night of scripted animated fare (on Sundays), while the rest of the week is rife with multiple Gordon Ramsay cooking competitions, new seasons of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, Name That Tune and The Masked Singer, 9-1-1: Lone Star reruns, the new, David Spade-hosted Snake Oil game show, and, of course, Friday Night SmackDown.
But whenever the magical day comes for live-action scripted fare to return to our screens, “we’re going to return those shows with vigor,” Thorn avowed. “We really pride ourselves on ‘less is more’ and we were fortunate to be able to really put our money where our mouth is in that regard. When we return, Animal Control is going to get the full backing of this far-reaching platform [as will] John Wells’ new show, Rescue: Hi-Surf, when we launch it.”
Several columns back we posited that the strike might just be settled by Labor Day .. and we were lambasted with emails from a scattering of actors, writers and below-the-line talent that it would not be. They were right. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. Is it? Let’s all make nice and good back to work.
SHORT TAKES — As you may know the Toronto Film Festival has been going on and the two films that have received the most buzz are the Paul-Simon/Alex Gibey doc,
In Restless Dreams and Knox Goes Away starring Michael Keaton, who also directs, with Al Pacino, can’t wait to see both. Bravo! …The latest episode of Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building was just OK. So far, this third season has totally underwhelmed us. We said a few columns back it was most likely due to the fact that Martin hasn’t written any of the episodes so far. Why? I have no idea. Matthew Broderick played himself, but with a little more anxiety than usual, but the real highlight of this episode was a video-phone call between Martin Short and Mel Brooks. Irresistibly funny … Hard to believe that it’s the 25th anniversary of MTV’s ground-breaking TRL Live (Total Request Live).
Carson Daly did a nice remembrance on Thursday’s Today Show, even citing John Norris and Kurt Loder, who were key correspondents. They taped many of the shows at NYC’s long-gone Palladium (now an NYU dorm), but many, many memories come to mind; Hall & Oates rehearsing in their dressing room
and running into Debbie Gibson is one. Daly pointed out -and rightly so- TRL was a fan-driven show, where viewers had to request what to hear. These days I guess it’s just a download. Much missed for sure …
Funny watching Carrie Underwood this morning; as she she reminded me so much of Shania Twain. from the music, to her visuals. As always, her “Before He Cheats” is tremendous and a big crowd pleaser … It’s a funny world for sure.
When RL Stine’s Goosebumpsfirst debuted in 1992, it was heralded as refreshingly new, both for the kid-demo and its brilliance. There were a few attempts at a series (even with Stine introducing them) and even a movie in 2015 that did just so-so. Now, with Netflix’s Stranger Things having hit a home run, Disney+ is starting a series, with Justin Long, that appears to veer dangerously close to Stranger Things. Also, oddly enough, Stine does not appear to be involved with it. He says: “I wish I knew something about it. I’m not in the loop. It looked to me like they weren’t going to do an anthology show. They were going to do something different that was some kind of continuing story. That’s what it appeared. But I have no information about it.” It begins on October 31. Have a look at the trailer:
Great Bernie Taupin interview on NY Live with Sara Gore. They’re friends, so the interview as sensational. Check it out:
NAMES IN THE NEWS —Andrew Sandoval; Jacqueline Boyd; Alison Martino; Robert Funaro; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Roy Trakin; Daryl Estrea; Glenn Gretlund; Jane Blunkell; Roger Friedman; Felix Cavaliere; Dan Mapp; Jim Kerr; Sam Rubin; Liz White; Grace Mendoza; Roy Trakin; and ZIGGY!
Living Portraits By Alexa Meade On Display 529 Fifth Avenue
Loving the Love of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” at the Stratford Festival, Canada
Indigenous Climate Warriors in Times Square
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