Here Lies Love, the costly David Byrne-Fatboy Slim immersive musical that required an extensive renovation of the Broadway Theatre for its dance club setting, will play its final Broadway performance on Sunday, November 26.
When it closes, Here Lies Love will have played 33 previews and 149 regular performances at the Broadway Theatre.
More from Deadline
At an estimated cost of $22 million, Here Lies Love, which uses a dance club setting to tell the story of the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos, will now be among Broadway’s priciest flops in recent years. Despite a promising start when it opened July 20, the show failed to sustain the level of ticket sales that would cover its weekly operating costs. During the week ending November 5, for example, the show filled just 79% of seats at the Broadway, grossing $768,244.
A long-gestating production, the musical had its world premiere Off Broadway at The Public Theater in 2013, returning to the venue in 2014-2015. A West End production debuted at London’s Royal National Theatre in 2014, and a production opened at Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2017.
The Off Broadway production was an audience favorite and drew mostly excellent reviews. The transition to Broadway, however, never quite took hold, either critically or among audiences (despite various ticket initiatives). Much of the show’s appeal – or intended appeal – is its fun-night-out approach to theater, with a large segment of the orchestra-level audience required to participate in the dance-club goings-on. The unusual approach likely found a more receptive audience at the downtown Manhattan Public Theater.
Expectations, though, were high for a Broadway staging, with a top-notch creative team that includes not only Byrne and Fatboy Slim but director Alex Timbers, scenic designer David Korins and costume designer Clint Ramos, among others. Although the large all-Filipino cast has featured some performers well-known in New York’s theater circles – namely Arielle Jacobs, who plays Imelda Marcos and Jose Llana, who portrays Ferdinand Marcos – the production initially relied heavily on guest star (and producing team member) Lea Salonga to generate headlines and buzz. Salonga, who appeared for about a month last summer, played a character that appears only briefly in the musical, singing the song “Just Ask The Flower”.
With the closing of Here Lies Love, Broadway’s recent penchant for productions that require extensive and costly venue renovations proves to be a riskier endeavor than was perhaps expected. The $35.5 million Harry Potter and the Cursed Child moved into Broadway’s renovated Lyric Theatre in 2018 as a two-part play, a costly experiment (for producers and the audience) that was curtailed in 2021 when Broadway reopened after the Covid pandemic shutdown: Cursed Child returned in a slimmed-down, one-part production that continues to draw decent, if not sell-out, crowds.
Next up in the immersive genre is the spring revival of Cabaret – officially called Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, a title that hints at the transformation of the August Wilson Theatre into a Weimar Era nighclub, complete with an in-the-round auditorium and what the production calls “sinfully dreamlike spaces” in which ticket-buyers can experience pre-show entertainment. The revival, which has enjoyed a long West End run, will star Eddie Redmayne, Gayle Rankin and Ato Blankson-Wood, begins previews on Monday, April 1, 2024, with an official press opening on Sunday, April 21. The cost of the production is estimated in the $24 million to $25 million range.
In a lengthy statement today, the producers of Here Lies Love said, “When we started this journey to bring this bold and original work to Broadway, we asked ourselves: Can anyone produce on Broadway in a new way? Is there a new path forward? What does the template look like? Will audiences want something radically new? Who will those audiences be?”
The statement continues:
“We have learned a great deal about the answers to those questions. Yes, new ways can work. Artistic excellence can be achieved. But the reality is, succeeding on Broadway means not only producing excellent work with artistic merit––it also means creating the audience for it. And how much time it takes to find and grow new audiences is out of sync with the tight timeframes for audience-building and awareness.
“Every aspect of our production brought new life and fresh ideas to Broadway, from the innovative music of David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, the beautiful choreography of Annie-B Parson, the masterful staging by our visionary director Alex Timbers, and the jaw-dropping set, lighting, sound, and projection designs by David Korins, Justin Townsend, M.L. Dogg, Cody Spencer and Peter Nigrini, and among the most dazzling collection of costumes ever seen on Broadway created by Clint Ramos.
“As the first-ever fully binational producing team, we are deeply proud and honored to have brought this pioneering theatrical event to Broadway. The first all-Filipino acting company on Broadway received universal critical acclaim, celebrated by thousands of people from diverse backgrounds, including record numbers who experienced going to a Broadway show for the first time.
“As an artistic, cultural, and commercial enterprise, we believe that Here Lies Love had to be presented on Broadway. We hope anyone who hasn’t seen the production will be able to get to the show before November 26.”
Here Lies Love will be filmed for the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Discussions are also underway for two upcoming international productions in Japan and Australia.
Here Lies Love is produced on Broadway by Hal Luftig/Kevin Connor, Patrick Catullo, Clint Ramos, Jose Antonio Vargas, and Diana DiMenna and Plate Spinner Productions, with Aaron Lustbader serving as Executive Producer.
Best of Deadline