Lea Salonga Is Making a Broadway Comeback as Ninoy Aquino's Mother in Here Lies Love
For the first time since the pandemic, Lea Salonga will grace the Broadway stage, this time as Aurora Aquino, mother of Benigno “Ninoy Aquino, in the critically-acclaimed Imelda Marcos biographical musical, Here Lies Love.
The production, which features music from David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, reimagines the life of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, a controversial figure in Philippine history. The musical will follow her rise to power, which ended when the Marcos regime was toppled during the People Power Revolution.
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Despite making her Broadway debut in 1991 in Miss Saigon, Aurora Aquino will mark Lea Salonga’s first role as a Filipino character on Broadway. The musical will also mark her first time as a producer for a Broadway show.
As the Aquino matriarch, the Tony award-winning actress will perform the song “Just Ask Flowers,” and will appear in the show for just five weeks from July 11 to August 13. After her run, Filipino guest stars will take over her role to display “the abundance or talent” of Filipino performers.
“I’m so excited to be joining Here Lies Love as both a performer and producer,” Salonga said in a statement. “As an audience member that stood on the dance floor at the National Theatre in London where Here Lies Love ran in 2014, I knew I wanted to be part of it if and when it ever came to Broadway. Now here we are, and at the theater in which I made my Broadway debut.
“I’m thrilled to be part of this show as well as part of a company comprised of an abundance of Filipino talent, a first in Broadway history. We’re showing the world what we’re capable of.”
The show first debuted off Broadway in 2013 at The Public Theatre in New York, followed by an extended run in the same year. The production has since played at the Royal National Theatre in London and Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle. Its 2023 production will mark the musical’s first time on Broadway.
Original cast members Jose Llana and Conrad Ricamora will reprise their roles as Ferdinand Marcos and Ninoy Aquino, respectively. Additional casting is still underway.
“Having Lea join the Here Lies Love family is a pinch-me moment for all of us. I can’t wait to get in the rehearsal room with her and the other talented artists working on this show,” said director Alex Timbers.
Meanwhile, producer and costume designer Clint Ramos praised Salonga for “singularly securing a place for Filipinos on the Broadway stage.” Calling her a source of pride for the Philippines, Ramos added, “That she joins us as both performer and producer, where she creates a pipeline for Filipina actresses, is profoundly historic.”
The musical will begin preview on June 17 and opening night will take place on July 20.