David Byrne has reached an agreement with the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802 over his upcoming Broadway staging of Here Lies Love, Variety reports. The show will begin previews on June 17th with 12 musicians after the union called for Byrne to utilize live music in the production.
“Broadway is a very special place with the best musicians and performances in the world, and we are glad this agreement honors that tradition,” Local 802 president and executive director Tina Gagliardi said in a statement. The union previously criticized Byrne for his plans to use pre-recorded music in the musical, noting that the move would violate a mandated contract clause requiring 19 musicians to be hired for all musicals staged on Broadway. Gagliardi called the backing track structure “an existential threat to Broadway” that threatened the livelihoods of working musicians.
The team behind Here Lives Love — a musical written by Byrne and Fatboy Slim based on their 2010 concept album of the same name — defended their decision to use prerecorded music, arguing that it was essential to the Filipino dance club culture depicted in the show. The musical is based on the rise and fall of former Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos during the People Power Revolution, and previous stagings of the production in London, Seattle, and Off-Broadway used pre-recorded music.
Here Lies Love producers addressed the agreement with the Broadway union in 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,” they said. “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.”
The producers added, “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 compromise to feature 12 musicians comes after the production team sought to have the show declared a “special situation,” which would allow for fewer than 19 musicians to be employed.
Here Lies Love officially opens on July 20th at the Broadway Theatre.