Broadway’s “Here Lies Love” is a dynamite showcase for actor and singer Arielle Jacobs, whose chilling, full-throttle efficiency has made the immersive musical a must-see. The present can be a raucous dance occasion and a historic first, that includes an all-Filipino solid.
Nonetheless, Jacobs understands why some viewers members go away the theater feeling conflicted — a bit fearful, even — by a lot of what they’ve simply witnessed onstage.
“I knew that the telling of this story was going to open wounds for a lot of people,” the California native instructed HuffPost after the musical opened at New York’s Broadway Theatre final month. “There’s a big weight in taking on a character like this, especially a real-life person who caused a lot of damage and trauma to her people and her country.”
She went on to notice: “But this show is not one-note. We are telling a cautionary tale. My hope is that, in opening those wounds, we are making space for healing and conversation, and allowing families and friends to talk about things they didn’t want to address. So I think the experience of the show … isn’t something to avoid. It’s something to encourage.”
That includes a disco-pop rating by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, “Here Lies Love” tells the real-life story of Imelda Marcos (performed by Jacobs), who rose from obscurity to develop into the primary woman of the Philippines on the arm of President Ferdinand Marcos (Jose Llana) in 1965.
For a time, the Marcoses are fêted as their nation’s reply to U.S. President John F. Kennedy and first woman Jacqueline Kennedy. One in all their chief critics, nonetheless, is Philippine senator Ninoy Aquino (Conrad Ricamora), who had a short romance with Imelda throughout their youth and routinely factors out how she and her husband’s well-documented overspending begins to drive their nation’s economic system into decline.
About seven years after his election, Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial legislation throughout his nation in an effort to take care of political and financial management. Earlier than lengthy, his regime — described by historians as a “conjugal dictatorship”— was sullied by a grisly file of human rights abuses, a lot of which was directed at his opponents. In 1986, he and Imelda have been overthrown and thrown into exile in the course of the Folks Energy Revolution.
“Here Lies Love” started as an idea album in 2010, and was staged on the Public Theater in New York three years later by Tony-winning director Alex Timbers, who’s repeating that obligation on Broadway. Jacobs first auditioned for the 2013 manufacturing, however the a part of Imelda went to actor Ruthie Ann Miles.
Earlier than the Broadway manufacturing of “Here Lives Love” was introduced earlier this yr, Miles had already joined the revival of “Sweeney Todd.” By then, Jacobs felt she’d correctly grown into the function. After an audition course of that lasted three months, the half was hers by March.
“As a Filipino American artist, I’ve never had an opportunity to play a Filipino before, because there just aren’t stories out there written for us,” she stated. “Also, there are a lot of roles like this written for men, especially in Shakespearean plays. But I can’t think of a single role written for a woman that goes this deep and allows her to show this kind of range, from innocence to corruption to leadership.”
As Imelda, Jacobs has no scarcity of showstopping moments. Her renditions of the present’s title track and the plaintive anthem “Why Don’t You Love Me?” are standouts, and she or he undergoes a whopping 19 costume adjustments over the course of the present’s 90 minutes. Because of an revolutionary set design by David Korins and using L-ISA, a state-of-the-art type of spatial sound expertise produced by French audio producer L-Acoustics, she’s capable of sing and dance her manner past the Broadway Theatre’s stage and onto its mezzanine and balcony.
Jacobs made her Broadway debut in “In the Heights” 13 years in the past, and went on star in “Wicked” and “Aladdin.” Nonetheless, “Here Lies Love” marks a serious step up for her as a performer in that it’s her first time originating a Broadway function.
The musical additionally carries deep private resonance for the actor and singer, who was raised in San Francisco alongside her brother, fellow Broadway performer Adam Jacobs. Her maternal grandfather was a Filipino scout for the U.S. Military throughout World Struggle II, when the Philippines was an American colony, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1965.
“I’m here because of him,” Jacobs stated. “My dream to be on Broadway now allows me to shine a light back there and look back at where we came from.”
Many have described “Here Lies Love” as a theatrical successor to “Evita,” Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s equally divisive 1978 musical based mostly on the lifetime of former Argentine first woman Eva Perón. To be truthful, there are variety of parallels between Marcos and Perón, at the least by way of how their rags-to-riches ascent and ruthless drive is portrayed in each musicals.
Nonetheless, Jacobs finds such comparisons reductive at greatest.
“I’d say it’s closer to Lady Macbeth than Evita,” she stated. And in contrast to “Evita,” the present ends on a forward-thinking, if foreboding, observe that alludes to right this moment’s sociopolitical local weather. Not solely is Imelda herself nonetheless alive at 94, however her son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., was elected president of the Philippines final yr.
“People who say we’re glamorizing or trivializing the Marcoses haven’t seen the show,” she added. “Unfortunately, democracy is at risk everywhere right now. One of the things that’s special about our show is that the audience gets to experience what it’s like to have your democracy taken away and then to get it back.”
Along with Broadway, Jacobs has been at work on one other skilled enterprise. This fall, she and her husband, fellow actor J.J. Caruncho, will launch The Sanctivia, a New York-based wellness firm targeted on psychological and bodily health.
And searching forward, she’s hoping to observe within the footsteps of different musical performers like Idina Menzel and Lea Salonga — who, by the way, had a visitor engagement in “Here Lies Love” earlier this summer season and is without doubt one of the musical’s co-producers — by voicing an animated character.
Although Jacobs is dedicated to “Here Lies Love” for the foreseeable future, she hopes the present’s success will probably be important in “opening more doors for more Filipinos to share their stories, and getting more Filipinos onstage and in TV and film and to have roles where we can play ourselves.”
“In telling this story, I feel like I can connect with people, and the storytelling is helping them connect with their own life,” she stated. “And I love that.”