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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
'Here Lies Love' and 'The City of Conversation'
Two reviews by Elyse Trevers

Behind the throne, there is usually a woman quietly exerting her influence. Two Off-Broadway shows depict such powerful women. Here Lies Love, reprised at the Public Theater, tells a musical story of Imelda Marcos, wife of Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. The other is the fictional Hester Ferris, a powerful hostess and activist working behind the scenes to influence politics in Washington in The City of Conversation.

Here Lies Love stars Ruthie Ann Miles as Imelda, a poor girl who marries the man destined to rule The Philippines. As the play progresses, Miles begins to look more and more like the real Imelda and last year she won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

The show creatively takes liberties with the rise of Imelda, her love for Aquino, who chooses love of country over individual love, and then finally her courtship and marriage to Marcos. (Sadly, there’s no mention of Imelda’s penchant for shoes.) The production is directed by Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher, Rocky.) The backup singers and dancers are talented and play a multitude of roles, but what makes the show so entertaining is that we, the audience, are part of it, shaking hands with the politicians as they work the crowds. Throughout the show we get to ‘travel’ throughout the Philippines because the stage moves and we go with it. The show is beautifully staged and well synchronized. The show even incorporates real news footages and actual transcripts.

Here Lies Love is an audience participation show, so if you don’t want to get involved (or can’t stand on your feet for 80-90 minutes) buy VIP tickets for upstairs. The theater space fits about 160 people. Quite frankly, it was really fun downstairs. We got to sing along, do line dancing and even help push the moveable stage around. It’s a unique theater experience, and the David Byrne-Fatboy Slim musical is so popular that it has already been extended three times.

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