"Imelda or Bust!" became Ruthie Ann Miles' motto when auditioning for Here Lies Love. While going through tryouts for David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's disco-themed immersive musical about controversial Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos, Miles, who had never starred in a leading role in a musical, originally thought she was being considered for the ensemble, or perhaps the supporting role of Estrella, Imelda's childhood friend. But as the audition process went on, Miles was given more of Imelda's scenes and songs and, she said, "It was 'Imelda or bust!'"
Miles began her journey when the musical received several workshops prior to its April 2013 world premiere at the Public Theater. Here Lies Love, which chronicles Marcos' rise to political might and fall from grace, is directed by Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers. Its original run was extended numerous times, and it returned for a second production in 2014.
The high-energy musical, which features moving sets as well as audience interaction, features Miles in almost every scene, with seemingly countless costume and wig changes as her character evolves from a naive young girl to a skillful and strategic politician. The musical follows her romances with Benigno Aquino, Jr. (Conrad Ricamora) and Ferdinand Marcos (Jose Llana) as she achieves worldwide notoriety for her political achievements as well as her lavish spending habits, including her famous collection of more than 1,000 shoes, up until the time the couple flees the country after Marcos was forced from office by the "People Power" movement in 1986.
Miles talked with Playbill.com about playing a household name, Marcos' feminine appeal and the behind-the-scenes strategy that keeps the musical moving.
I'm amazed you're already awake! Given how active the show is, I'd probably be in bed until 5 PM. It looks like all of you are working so hard up there.
Ruthie Ann Miles: Everybody works really hard. Everything is choreographed — backstage traffic, onstage traffic. Things are happening in the dark. If somebody isn't on their game, people get hurt. It really takes 100 percent of every single person. Talk about ensemble team building!
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