Musicians union upset David Byrne & Fatboy Slim musical features no musicians

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A musical with a score by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim is getting pushback from a musicians union, because it doesn’t use a live band. 

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians is unhappy that the show Here Lies Love plans to use a prerecorded track, as it has in previous runs of the show.

“A show with no live music and just pre-recorded tracks is absolutely an existential threat to Broadway- and is a cultural threat to musical theater worldwide,” Local 802 President and Executive Director Tino Gagliardi says. He suggests that “by using just pre-recorded tracks it not only cheapens the art it’s putting jobs and livelihoods at risk.” 

Local 802 says their agreement with the Broadway League requires any musical in a Broadway theater to have at least 19 musicians. The show has reportedly asked for a “special situation” stipulation to bypass the rule. Adrian Bryan-Brown, a spokesperson for the production, says the “process is ongoing,” adding they “will continue to work in good faith with the union to move through the steps of the contractual process.”

Hear Lies Love originally played at New York’s Public Theater 10 years ago, and had runs in London and Seattle. It’s described as a “disco pop” musical that puts audiences in an immersive setting, with standing room tickets so the audience can dance through the show. Its story is a dramatic telling of the Philippines’ former first lady Imleda Marcos‘ rise to power and then her hard downfall. 

The musical will begin preview performances at the Broadway Theatre on June 17 and then open July 20.

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