“Here Lies Love,” the new David Byrne musical that’s set to begin previews on Broadway starting June 17, and the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802 have reached an agreement over the inclusion of live musicians in the production. The show will be continuing with 12 musicians, according to a statement from Local 802 shared with Variety.
“Broadway is a very special place with the best musicians and performances in the world, and we are glad this agreement honors that tradition,” commented Tino Gagliardi, Local 802’s president and executive director in the announcement.
Producers of the musical also issued a statement: “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.”
They did not directly address the number of additions, or provide further context as to what roles they would occupy, instead stating, “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’s protest was based on a disagreement about the use of pre-recorded music for the Broadway production, a technical violation of a mandated contract rule that requires require 19 musicians at musicals produced at the Broadway Theatre. Producers wanted the show to be presented as it has been in other productions for the last 10 years, with actors singing mostly to pre-recorded backing tracks, which they say is not a cost measure but an inherent reflection of the dance-club ethos and karaoke culture of the Philippines.
“This is an artistic enterprise, where the use of the tracks and karaoke and how that’s deployed has artistic merit and value,” Jose Antonio Vargas, one of the two Filipinos among the show’s five producers, told Variety before both sides had comprised. “And that’s what’s been missing in this entire conversation, with this idea that we’re greedy producers. We are not career producers; basically, we look at this as a cultural project. This is so deeply tied to our identity as Filipinos that we actually came on and raised money and have been in conversations with the creative team guiding the show in a binational way all along.”