17.9 C
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
HomeEntertainmentDavid Byrne's Broadway show 'Here Lies Love' provokes anger over pre-recorded music

David Byrne’s Broadway show ‘Here Lies Love’ provokes anger over pre-recorded music


A local musicians’ union objects to the lack of a live band in David Byrne’s upcoming Broadway show Here lies love, called it an “existential threat” to the art form.

The show, which was first conceived 17 years ago and has had an Off-Broadway run among other performances, has previously been performed to a pre-recorded song, as it was inspired by the karaoke genre and its use of “track acts” in a club, allowing spectators to continue dancing, according to a representative of the production.

Based on a concept album by Byrne and Fatboy Slim, the disco-pop musical follows the story of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines. The musical, directed by Alex Timbers and produced by Hal Luftig, is scheduled for previews at the Broadway Theater on June 17. The theater has been completely renovated to accommodate a dance floor and other immersive levels for spectators.

Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians says that under the collective bargaining agreement with the Broadway League, which sets a guaranteed number of musicians per musical at a Broadway theater, a musical at the Broadway Theater requires 19 musicians.

A show with no live music and only pre-recorded songs is absolutely an existential threat to Broadway and a cultural threat to musical theater worldwide,” said Local 802 president and executive director Tino Gagliardi. For generations, audiences have experienced Broadway shows featuring live music performed by the best musicians in the world, and using only pre-recorded songs not only cheapens the arts, it also puts jobs and livelihoods at risk. Our musicians are heartbroken that David Byrne – a legend – is attempting this and we sincerely hope he reconsider.”

The production has asked for a “special situation” provision that would allow the show to go on with fewer than the required number of musicians (the union notes that while the show will be performed almost entirely to a pre-recorded soundtrack, there is a moment on which a handful of actors play instruments).

A panel of representatives from Local 802, the Broadway League and other neutral parties will examine the production and vote to determine whether to allow the reduction in the number of musicians. Considerations for this status include whether the production is “of a definable musical genre distinct from a traditional Broadway musical,” according to the production. If the parties do not accept the decision, it will be subject to arbitration.

The production says it has been in contact with the musicians’ union and has allowed members to express their concerns.

“This process is ongoing and may eventually result in a final and binding arbitration decision, but until then we will continue to work in good faith with the union to progress through the steps of the contractual process,” production spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown said.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

Latest stories