Here Lies Love’s opening night!
NEW YORK — July 20 has finally arrived, the opening night of “Here Lies Love” at the Broadway Theatre. And my thoughts about this moment are a bit of a blur.
I’ve been officially performing in the David Byrne-Fatboy Slim musical since July 11, with two unannounced performances the week before, just to get the show under my feet.
The show since its first preview has undergone numerous changes in staging, costumes, musicians and even the curtain call, and on Friday last week, it was declared frozen.
To freeze a show means that no more significant changes will be going in. No more full company rehearsals in the afternoons leading up to the evening performances. No more changes in how the show will look or sound. The musical is now in its final form, and by the time you read this, critics will have paid us a visit and put their thoughts down in their reviews.
And now, because I have a little breathing room on a quiet night at home, I can put a few of my own thoughts down. As I’ve done before, these will be random thoughts about what this experience has been like.
• Oh wow … at no point in 1991 could I have ever imagined that in this same space that I made my Broadway debut in would there ever be a musical with an all-Filipino cast. And, that I’d be making my own Broadway producing debut as well!
• Everyone has been exceptionally kind to one another during the entire rehearsal, tech and preview process … the producers, creative and design teams, associates and assistants, company management, stage management, house management, cast, crew, wranglers and even our ushers and security. Even under times of great stress and duress, there was abundant generosity, humor and respect. I shall treasure that always.
• It blows my mind that Filipino is so widely spoken in this company, and is actually encouraged! Those of us who are native speakers also try to help along the cast members who aren’t who need to say certain Filipino words. And the effort is paying off! Nic attended a couple of rehearsals, and said, “Momma, it’s great that the Filipino stuff is said right!”
• The audiences that have attended each night all deserve a huge THANK YOU. Not only were they generous with just coming to see the previews, they were also so giving of their time with leaving feedback. Throughout the process, many Broadway shows solicit comments about all the elements that comprise the musical, and what can be done to enhance things. Comments on sound, sets, lighting, music, costuming … name it. We truly appreciate all you’ve had to say!
• This could very well be the largest Pinoy producing team for a Broadway show! Yes, there are the high-profile names such as H.E.R., Jo Koy and Apl.de.Ap, but also our two lead producers Clint Ramos and Jose Antonio Vargas, and other amazing folks such as Georgina Pazcoguin, Don Mike Mendoza, Lora Nicolas Olaes, Girlie Rodis, Bobby Garcia, G Tongi, Celia Kaleialoha Kenney, Adam Hyndman, Jeremiah Abraham, DJ CherishTheLuv, Eva LaBadie, Miranda Gohh and Rob Laqui, plus our production research associate Sandro Lorenzo. (If I forgot anyone, my apologies!)
• There isn’t anything on Broadway like this. The immersive nature of the show extends into the lobby where there are merchandise booths, TV screens that give a historical overview of the events depicted in the musical, and an exhibit of David Byrne’s photos of his visit to Leyte in the lower lobby. The whole lobby area is bathed in pink light, which matches the lighting inside the theater itself. As for the playing area, the dance floor—which can host around 300 patrons—and floor side seating would be the best vantage points if you want the full immersive experience. Those patrons get to be as much a part of the action as the actors. The mezzanine seats have a more traditional theater viewing experience, but there are satellite stages there where actors appear, and a catwalk right at the front row of the mezzanine where some of the action takes place. There are also screens that show actors in medium shots and close-up and projection surfaces literally everywhere. Oh, there’s also a VIP lounge area with a private bar, which is great for larger groups that want to watch together.
Everything has been assembled, and all we have left to do is bestow the Actors Equity Legacy Robe to the ensemble member who has done the most Broadway shows, celebrate our many Broadway debuts in the cast and crew and perform this show.
To the entire company, creatives, producing team and crew of “Here Lies Love,” I have only the deepest and highest respect for each and every one of you, and it is such an honor to share this space with you.
To Clint and Jose, thank you for bringing me along for what has thus far been an incredible, fulfilling, joyous ride!
Break a leg, one and all … and let’s have fun tonight!