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David Byrne’s New Broadway Show Faces Opposition From Musicians’ Union

David Byrne‘s new Broadway show “Here Lies Love,” a collaboration with Fatboy Slim that is scheduled to begin previews at New York’s Broadway Theater on June 17, is reportedly facing opposition from the musicians’ union.

According to reports, the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802 claims the production violates the union’s contract with the Broadway League as it uses pre-recorded tracks instead of a live band. The contract stipulates that all musicals at the Broadway Theater must employ at least 19 musicians.

“A show with no live music and just pre-recorded tracks is absolutely an existential threat to Broadway- and is a cultural threat to musical theater worldwide,” said Local 802 president and Executive Director Tino Gagliardi. “For generations, audiences have experienced Broadway shows with live music performed by the best musicians in the world, and by using just pre-recorded tracks it not only cheapens the art it’s putting jobs and livelihoods at risk. Our musicians are heartbroken that David Byrne – a legend – is attempting this and we strongly hope he reconsiders.”

Byrne and the production team of “Here Lies Love” responded to the opposition to the more unconventional scoring of the show and said that it is not meant to be a “traditional” production.

“Here Lies Love is not a traditional Broadway musical,” Byrne and the show’s statement reads in part. “The music is drawn outside of the traditional musical genre. The performance of the live vocals to pre-recorded, artificial tracks is paramount to its artistic concept. Production has ripped out the seats in the theater and built a dance floor. There is no longer a proscenium stage. The Broadway Theatre has been transformed into a nightclub, with every theatergoer immersed in the experience. In many ways, Here Lies Love is pioneering this kind of dance club track-act immersion on Broadway.”

The production has reportedly requested a “special situation” stipulation, which would allow the show to proceed with less than the required number of musicians.

(Photo: Raphael Pour-Hashemi)

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