Meet the all-Filipino ‘Here Lies Love’ Broadway cast

This cast is the first of its kind in Broadway history, a milestone that is “long overdue but so so special,” says one actor in this immersive disco musical.

Joe Dziemianowicz
Joe Dziemianowicz

When it comes to controversial and captivating modern political figures, the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, is as attention-grabbing as a disco ball. The pop-dusted, dance-packed musical Here Lies Love charts her meteoric rise and fall. Mini history lesson: Imelda’s husband, Ferdinand Marcos, was elected president of the Philippines in 1965 and ruled for nearly 20 years. In 1972, he declared martial law. The People Power Revolution, a popular uprising, upended the regime and forced the Marcoses into exile in 1986.

First seen at the Public Theater in 2013 and again in 2014, the show runs on songs by David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) and Fatboy Slim, direction by Alex Timbers, and choreography by Annie-B Parson. The musical officially opens July 20 at the Broadway Theatre, which has been transformed into a dance club to accommodate the exhilarating, immersive production.

Here Lies Love boasts the first all-Filipino cast on Broadway, which lead actress Arielle Jacobs says is “a very big deal. First of all, I’ve never played a Filipino character. We’re telling the story and taking ownership of the story.”

In the cast of nearly two dozen actors, Jacobs stars as Imelda Marcos, joining 2013 cast members Jose Llana as Ferdinand Marcos and Conrad Ricamora as Ninoy Aquino, a political rival of the Marcoses. Tony and Olivier Award-winner Lea Salonga joins the cast from July 11 through August 13 as Aquino’s mother, Aurora.

Below, read more about these artists and the others bringing this revolutionary show to life.

Here Lies Love principal cast members

The main cast of Here Lies Love on Broadway includes a star-studded roster of Filipino talent. Learn more about the primary cast members and where you've seen them on stage and screen.

Arielle Jacobs

Arielle Jacobs

Born and raised in California, Jacobs most recently led the Off-Broadway cast of Between the Lines as Delilah, a girl who gets lost in books. She has taken over the plum Broadway roles of Nina in In the Heights, Nessarose in Wicked, and Jasmine in Aladdin.

“A proud Fil-Am” with a mom from the Philippines and a dad from Brooklyn, she’s stoked that Filipino artists are getting “to come to the forefront. We’re shining a spotlight on our history,” she said.

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Jose Llana

Born in the Philippines and raised near Washington, D.C., Llana knows his way around Broadway – and the role of Ferdinand Marcos. He played the dictator in both runs at the Public. Llana made his Broadway debut as the doomed scholar Lun Tha in the 1996 revival of The King and I, which he followed up with starring roles in Broadway productions of Flower Drum Song in 2002, Wonderland in 2011, and The King and I in 2015, in which he took over the role of the King of Siam.

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Conrad Ricamora

Born and raised in California, Filipino American Ricamora won a 2013 Theatre World Award for playing Aquino in the Public Theater production of Here Lies Love. He reprised the part in 2014 at the Public and 2017 at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Off Broadway, he has appeared in the musical Soft Power and donned geeky glasses to play nerdy Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.

Ricamora made his Broadway debut as Lun Tha in the 2015 Lincoln Center revival of The King and I — so Here Lies Love on Broadway marks his third collaboration with Llana. Ricamora is also known for starring in the TV series How to Get Away with Murder and the movie Fire Island.

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Lea Salonga

Born in Manila, Philippines, Salonga has been dubbed the “Pride of the Philippines.” Best known for her Tony-winning star turn as Kim in the 1991 production of Miss Saigon, Salonga’s other Broadway credits include Flower Drum Song, Les Miserables, Allegiance, and Once on This Island.

The all-Filipino ensemble of Here Lies Love

An additional 20 actors complete the all-Filipino ensemble of Here Lies Love on Broadway. Meet five of them and find out what the show’s landmark casting means to them.

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Melody Butiu

Butiu, who made her Broadway debut in Doctor Zhivago, reprises the role of Estrella, Imelda’s nanny. She played the same part off Broadway and at Seattle Rep. “For this to be an opportunity for Filipino artists to use our voices to tell the story of a very specific moment in Filipino history that is still intricately tied to the U.S. is very powerful,” said Butiu, who was born in New York. Her parents are from Davao City in the Philippines.

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Moses Villarma

Villarama, whose Off-Broadway credits include Cambodian Rock Band, makes his Broadway debut as the DJ. “My dad was a U.S. Navy man for 20 years — I was born in Subic Bay in the Philippines and lived there until I was 3," he said. "Here Lies Love is a very important story in world history and about human nature. The added benefit of doing it with an all-Filipino cast just permeates throughout the building. It's just something special that I’ve never experienced before.”

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Jasmine Forsberg

Forsberg makes her Broadway debut as Maria Luisa, who accompanied Imelda on one of her lavish overseas shopping sprees. “In a way, she gives the audience an inside look at what Imelda is actually experiencing on the inside,” said Forsberg, whose maternal grandparents were both born in the Philippines.

Being in an all-Filipino company is a "vibe," she added. “To share a cultural experience with somebody, there's nothing like that. The fact that this is the first time that Broadway has seen that specifically with Filipino culture is just so special. Long overdue, but so, so special.”

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Reanne Acasio

Acasio makes her Broadway debut as Aurora, Ninoy Aquino’s mother. She was born in the U.S. territory of Guam, and her parents are from the Philippines. After the family moved to the mainland United States, her father joined the U.S. Air Force.

As a girl, she “spent a lot of time in the Philippines visiting and learning about my roots,” she said, adding that being in this show amid an all-Filipino cast has been eye-opening. “I cannot believe I wasn’t taught about the People Power Revolution’s fight against the dictatorship. But I’m learning more each day.”

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Roy Flores

Flores makes his Broadway debut in the ensemble and understudies Marcos and Aquino. “This is the most supportive working environment I’ve ever been in, said Flores, who was born in the Philippines and moved to San Diego in his early teens. “Even though the cast are all coming from different places, there's this bond and this trust.” As they tell this complicated slice of history, “it's nice to have a group of individuals who have each other’s backs.”

Photo credit: The full cast of Here Lies Love. (Photo courtesy of production)

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