Music

David Byrne and Broadway Musicians’ Union Reach Hiring Agreement for Here Lies Love

David Byrne and Broadway Musicians’ Union Reach Hiring Agreement for Here Lies Love

A dozen musicians will now provide the show’s live score, following union pushback over the new production

David Byrne

David Byrne, May 2023 (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

David Byrne has come to an agreement with the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802 over hiring live musicians for the musiacl  Here Lies Love, which is set to begin previews on June 17. The show, which Byrne co-wrote with Fatboy Slim, will now move forward with 12 musicians, as a Local 802 representative confirmed to Pitchfork. “Broadway is a very special place with the best musicians and performances in the world, and we are glad this agreement honors that tradition,” said Tino Gagliardi, Local 802’s president and executive director, in a statement. 

According to a Local 802 rep, the music for Here Lies Love will now be provided by nine musicians and three actor-musicians, all of whom are union members. Producers for Here Lies Love shared a statement about the development:

On behalf of our entire cast, company and creative team, we have reached an agreement with Musicians Union Local 802, per the collective bargaining agreement. We look forward to welcoming audiences to experience the revolutionary musical experience that is Here Lies Love at the Broadway Theatre beginning on Saturday, June 17.

Here Lies Love has always had three actor-musicians and a musical director in every production.  The show’s integrity and the musical concept remains the same.

The union objected to the show’s plan to use pre-recorded music last month, claiming that it violated a contract clause requiring that at least 19 musicians are hired for all musicals staged at the Broadway Theater. Responding to criticism in The New York Times, a spokesperson for the production claimed that the decision to use pre-recorded music was “part of the karaoke genre inherent to the musical and the production concept.” 

Byrne issued a statement of his own defending the production choices, explaining the “dance club track-act immersion” as part of the show’s nontraditional staging. “The performance of the live vocals to pre-recorded, artificial tracks is paramount to its artistic concept. Production has ripped out the seats in the theater and built a dance floor. There is no longer a proscenium stage,” he wrote in part.

Here Lies Love, a musical about the early life of the embattled Filipina first lady Imelda Marcos, debuted in its original run at New York’s Public Theater in 2013. It’s since been staged in Seattle and London, and its official opening date on Broadway is July 20.

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