05/02/2014 05:26 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2014

Here Lies Love: Imelda Marcos Back at The Public Theater

Early on in this exuberant immersive dance extravaganza,
the young Imelda Marcos in a tattered frock sings of a time when she
had no shoes. Of course, when she rose from local beauty queen to be
The Philippines' first lady, shoes became her trademark of excess,
only enhancing her epic myth. Now back at The Public Theater after a
several month hiatus, ever so slightly tweaked, the play about her,
David Byrne's Here Lies Love retains the energy, superb acting,
singing and dancing of last year's staging, and is the season's
must-dance event.

Even the furniture doesn't stand still. At last night's opening, for a
room filled with friends and family, the boogying ushers in neon
jumpsuits moved the audience, a happy crowd that included Baz Luhrmann
and the Public's Oskar Eustis to all sides of the room, and all phases
of the politics and personals of these larger than life figures. Under
Alex Timbers' direction, a talented boys' corps and a high kicking,
sweet girls' group glad-hand the pulsing crowd as if each one were
truly a potential vote. Jose Llana as Ferdinand and Conrad Ricamora as
his rival Aquino stand out. Ruthie Ann Miles seems born to the Imelda
Marcos role. A woman of style and steel, she copes elegantly with her
husband's infidelities, illness, and eventual political demise during
the People Power Revolution. A party animal in gold brocades, when she
sings, "Why Don't You Love Me?" she seems quite clueless as to her
countrymen's struggles.

David Byrne was having the most fun, and it was wise to keep in step
with him as his music limned this history. He knew what was coming,
the former Talking Head said at the afterparty at the Gallow Greens
and Heath rooftop at the Hotel McKittrick, and spoke about working on
the music with co-creator Fatboy Slim. Alas, the plan to bring this
theater to Broadway was kaboshed; they just could not find the right
space. No worries. Here Lies Love will stay at the Public for a while,
and Byrne is working on a new musical.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.