Broadway Musicians’ Union Opposes David Byrne Musical

The American Federation of Musicians' Local 802 says 'Here Lies Love' violates a contract with the Broadway League due to the use of pre-recorded tracks

Here Lies Love, David Byrne’s musical collaboration with Fatboy Slim, is being opposed by a Broadway musicians’ union due to an alleged breach of its contract with the Broadway League.

The show is due to debut at New York’s Broadway Theater on June 17, but the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802 claims the production’s plan to rely on pre-recorded music, rather than use a live band, violates a contract term which stipulates that all musicals at the Broadway Theater must employ at least 19 musicians. Issuing a statement to The New York Times, production spokesperson Adrian Bryan-Brown said the tracks are "part of the karaoke genre inherent to the musical and the production concept," and have been a key part of Here Lies Love since its inception.

In a response statement to the union’s complaints, Byrne and the production team said: "Here Lies Love is not a traditional Broadway musical. The music is drawn outside of the traditional musical genre. 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. The Broadway Theatre has been transformed into a nightclub, with every theatergoer immersed in the experience. In many ways, Here Lies Love is pioneering this kind of dance club track-act immersion on Broadway.

"Broadway must create space for boundary-pushing creative work. Broadway is also the venue for a well conceived, high-quality show that highlights the valued traditions of specific cultures whose stories have never been on its stages. Here Lies Love does not believe in artistic gate-keepers. Here Lies Love believes in a Broadway for everyone, where new creative forms push the medium and create new traditions and audiences."

Here Lies Love, which is based on the early life of the Philippines’ controversial former first lady Imelda Marcos, debuted in 2013 and has been presented during past runs in London and Seattle. Following a series of preview shows at the Broadway Theater, it will fully open to the public on July 20.

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