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The cast of ‘Here Lies Love’ open up about what it’s like to perform Filipino history on Broadway

Stars Arielle Jacobs and Lea Salonga share about connecting with their cultural roots onstage.

(L-R) Arielle Jacobs and Lea Salonga on the opening night red carpet for “Here Lies Love” on Broadway (Credit: Jenny Anderson)

After more than a decade of development, “Here Lies Love” has made it to Broadway. The original musical opened July 20 at the Broadway Theatre; it tells the story of the rise and fall of Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos and the People Power Revolution.

In the latest episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” the cast of the new musical celebrated their opening night, and Charlie Cooper joined star Arielle Jacobs on her walk to the theater. Besides the excitement of opening a trailblazing Broadway show, there is one thing the cast can agree on: the importance of representing their own culture on stage.

The show has made history as the first all Filipino cast on the Main Stem. “It means the world to me that we have an all-Filipino company on Broadway, and that this is the first time anything like this has ever happened,” said Lea Salonga, a co-producer on the show who is also playing the role of Aurora Aquino.

The impact is also felt by Filipino audiences. Jacobs, who plays Imelda, described, “So many Filipinos after the show are in tears because they feel like they’re being represented onstage, and they feel like their children are getting to learn about their history.”

Staged as a disco dance party,  “Here Lies Love” innovates in form as well as content. The Broadway Theatre’s transformation into a Filipino night club marks a first for the venue as well as the actors. The cast must communicate this complex history without getting lost in the glitz and the glamor of the dance floor. “People are coming for the party, and it is a party, but it’s also so much more than that,” said Jacobs. “I feel a big responsibility.”

The cast has taken charge in telling their people’s story and they hope “Here Lies Love” can  prove that expanding cultural variety  will allow theater to move forward into future greatness.

“What I am hoping for is that more people of color in this community, in this global artistic community here on Broadway, can look at this as an example for what is possible,” Salonga said. “If we could do it, it gives permission to everybody else.”

This week’s episode of “The Broadway Show” also includes the opening night red carpet for “The Cottage.” Paul Wontorek sits down for interviews with “Back to the Future” star Roger Bart and “Just for Us” star and scribe Alex Edelman. Perry Sook finds out what it takes to be a part of the “Chicago” street team. Ben Jackson Walker from “& Juliet” describes his path to his Broadway debut as this week’s “Fresh Face.”