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Review: Here Lies Love, Don't Cry for Imelda

Ophelia Clark-Wade, Grade 10, Staff Writer


With a growing threat to democracies around the world from Hungary to the United States, the election of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the Philippines has raised the question, will history repeat itself? Common Sense reviews the recently closed Broadway show, Here Lies Love, and its connection to current events.

Elected in 2022, the Philippines' current president is the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and his wife Imelda who bankrupted their country and put it under years of martial law.

Here Lies Love, a musical imagined by David Byrnes, directed by Alex Timbers, and with music by Fatboy Slim, shines light on the “rags to riches” life of Imelda Marcos. Much like the 20th-century success of Evita about Eva Perón, the show illuminates Imelda's experience and influence as the wife of a dictator. However, instead of Imelda asking her people not to cry for her, she demands “Why don’t you love me” to the Philippines.

The storyline and its message are amplified by the show’s immersive elements including its moving stage, labeled the “blender”, a dancing audience, and a theater lined with digital screens.

Ms. Peterson, who attended the Broadway show with Ms. Rice and student volunteers from HSAS, remarked that she “loved the whole disco theme and . . . loved how much energy there was in the show. It was telling a very complex historical story but did it in a way that was incredibly original.”

Imelda moves from her small hometown of Tacloban to the big city of Manila, where her beauty continues to be prized. Shortly after coming to the attention of Ferdinand, the couple marries and forms one of the strongest political families in the Philippines. Imelda becomes the figurehead of Ferdinand's presidency which begins with his election in 1965 and lasts for 20 years.

Many have begun to ask whether Imelda’s story should really be shared as a form of entertainment that skims the surface of a much darker and deeper reality. The audience is told to clap, cheer, and jump throughout the performance to emulate the feeling of a club while watching Imelda expand her shoe collection at the cost of impoverished Filipinos’ blood, sweat, and tears.

Nevertheless, Here Lies Love shines a spotlight on something that is excluded in much of history, the Philippines and the influential People Power Revolution of 1986. It is the first Broadway musical with an all Filipino cast. Its purpose was to spark curiosity and educate people like the students at HSAS and many other schools whose knowledge beyond America and the Western world is limited by the New York State curriculum.

Sophomore Josephine Kramer explains, “students often don’t get the chance to hear stories like the one in Here Lies Love.”

For this exact reason Ms. Rice, the organizer of the trip, chose Here Lies Love and that is why you should have too.

Photo from "Here Lies Love."

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