Giant and David Byrne's Imelda Marcos Musical Here Lies Love Among Titles Announced for Public Theater in 2012-13

By Adam Hetrick
April 9, 2012

Here Lies Love, a new pop musical about Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos by Talking Heads' David Byrne and dance DJ Fatboy Slim, will premiere as part of the Public Theater's 2012-2013 season, which also promises the new Michael John LaChiusa-Sybille Pearson musical Giant and Tony nominee Colman Domingo's play Wild With Happy. Richard Nelson, Richard Foreman, Dominique Morriseau, Alex Timbers, Annie-B Parson, J. Smith Cameron and other artists were also announced.



The season will launch Oct. 9-Nov. 11 with Wild With Happy, a world premiere by Scottsboro Boys and Passing Strange actor Domingo. Robert O'Hara will direct. Domingo will also appear in the four-person play that will also be produced by TheatreWorks in California in spring 2013.

Wild With Happy, according to the Public, "explores the surreal, bizarre, and outrageous comedy that lies in dealing with death and healing. Wild With Happy follows the journey of a young man named Gil who plans to scatter his mother's ashes in the place where she was the most happy."

Giant, which has a score by five-time Tony nominee LaChiusa (The Wild Party, Marie Christine, Hello Again) and a book by Tony nomine Pearson (Baby), will receive its New York debut Oct. 26-Dec. 2 under the direction of Tony winner Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal), with choreography by Alex Sanchez.

Based on the sweeping, Texas-set novel by Edna Ferber, Giant premiered at the Dallas Theater Center last winter. DTC co-produces the musical with the Public. Casting for the New York engagement has not been announced.

Here's how it's billed: "Giant spans generations in an epic chronicle of Texas, our 'Heartbreak Country.' Amid a tumultuous culture of big-business greed, racial bigotry, and unyielding family allegiance, a cattleman and ranch heir, his East Coast sophisticate wife, their family and friends — as well as their enemies — embrace and confront the joys and sorrows that loom as large as the landscape of America's Lone Star State."

Tony Award winner Richard Nelson (James Joyce's The Dead) will bring back the Apple family from his plays Sweet and Sad and That Hopey Changey Thing for the world premiere of his new political work, Sorry, which will run Oct. 30-Nov. 18 as part of the Public Lab.

The third play in the series will reunite original cast members from the first two plays, including Jon DeVries, Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders and J. Smith-Cameron. Nelson will direct.

According to the Public, "A year after Sweet and Sad, the Apple family again share a meal in Rhinebeck, as they sort through personal and political feelings of loss and confusion on the morning of the day the country will choose the next president. Like the first two plays, Sweet and Sad and That Hopey Changey Thing, Sorry will open on the day that it is set, November 6, 2012 — Election Day."

Giant composer Michael John LaChiusa
photo by Krissie Fullerton

Nathan Englander's The Twenty-Seventh Man, which was to debut at the Public last season, will now run Nov. 7-Dec. 9 under the direction of Barry Edelstein, also as part of the Public Lab. It is based on Englander's novel of the same title.

Here's how it is billed: "Set in a Soviet prison in 1952, Stalin's secret police have rounded up twenty-six writers, the giants of Yiddish literature in Russia. As judgment looms, a twenty-seventh suddenly appears: Pinchas Pelovits, unpublished and unknown. Baffled by his arrest, he and his cellmates wrestle with the mysteries of party loyalty and politics, culture and identity, and with what it means to write in troubled times. When they discover why the twenty-seventh man is among them, the writers come to realize that even in the face of tyranny, stories still have the power to transcend."

Dominique Morisseau's Detroit 67, which was developed through the Public's Emerging Writers Group, will receive its premiere staging Feb. 26-March 17, 2013, under the direction of Kwame Kwei-Armah. It is a co-production with the Classical Theatre of Harlem.

"It's 1967 in Detroit and Motown music gets the party started," according to the Public. "Chelle and her brother Lank transform their basement into an after-hours joint to make ends meet. But when a mysterious woman winds her way into their lives, the siblings clash over much more than family business. As their pent-up feelings erupt, so does their city, and the flames of the '67 Detroit riots engulf them all."

Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón will direct the world premiere of his Chekhov-inspired play Neva, running March 1-31, 2013. Andrea Thome penned the translation.

"In a politically charged, haunting yet humorous meditation on theater and the revolutionary impulse, Chilean writer-director Guillermo Calderón's Neva tells the story of Anton Chekhov's widow, the actress Olga Knipper, who arrives in a dimly lit rehearsal room in St. Petersburg in the winter of 1905. As Olga and two other actors await the rest of the cast, they huddle together, act out scenes from their lives and muse on their art form and love — while, unseen, striking workers are being gunned down in the streets by the Tsarist regime. Calderón savagely examines the relationship between theater and historical context in this ominous and tightly crafted work that allows a palpable terror to creep through the theater walls," according to the Public.

Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) will direct the world premiere of the musical Here Lies Love, which will run April 2-May 5, 2013. Annie-B Parson will choreograph. Based on the life of shoe-loving first lady Imelda Marcos, Here Lies Love has music by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, with lyrics by Byrne. A starry concept album of the same title was released by Byrne in 2010.

Here's how the Public describes the musical: "Within a throbbing dance club environment, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim deconstruct the astonishing journey of Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos and her meteoric rise and subsequent descent into infamy. This wholly immersive spectacle combines disco beats, adrenaline-fueled choreography, and a remarkable 360-degree scenic and video environment — to go beyond Imelda's near-mythic obsession with shoes and explore true questions of power and responsibility."

The season will close with Old Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance), written, directed and designed by acclaimed avant-garde theatre-maker Richard Foreman (Idiot Savant). It will run April 30-June 2, 2013.

"Snapshots from an enigmatic fairy-tale in which Suzie, the elusive coquette, brings Samuel to his knees — from where he worships a life he only half understands. Old Fashioned Prostitutes (A True Romance) is an expressionistic chamber-play that twists emotional heartache into a landscape of continual mental invention," the Public states.

The Public will also offer a 2012 summer staging of Richard III, staged by Amanda Dehnert as part of its Mobile Shakespeare Unit. It will tour throughout New York July 17-Aug. 5, prior to an Aug. 7-26 run at The Public. Tickets will be $15.

Single tickets for the 2012-2013 season will go on sale later this year. For further information visit PublicTheater. The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.