Sole survivor... DJ's musical tribute to Imelda Marcos

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The Independent Culture

Successful musicals have focussed on characters as unlikely as a chat-show host, the wife of an Argentine demagogue and the Son of God.

Now a new subject for musical biography has been announced: the world's most famous shoe-addict. DJ Fatboy Slim and former Talking Heads singer David Byrne are writing a "theatrical music event" about Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines.

Here Lies Love will premiere at the Adelaide Festival in Australia in March. It has been billed as a "satirical, witty and thought-provoking exploration into the mind of international jetsetter, alleged victim, grieving widow and avid shoe collector." According to a festival spokesman, the musical will tell "a timeless story with more contemporary resonances than are comfortable."

Mrs Marcos was married to President Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines for 21 years before he was toppled in 1986 by a popular revolt.

Her massive collection of shoes became a byword for egregious bad taste and personal greed. After the Marcos family fled to Hawaii, opposition activists found more than 3,000 size eight shoes in the couple's palatial Manila home. The collection included a pair of plastic disco sandals with three-inch battery-operated flashing heels.

The new musical was devised by Scottish-born singer Byrne, who co-wrote the music with the British DJ. Its title is taken from the words Mrs Marcos wants engraved on her tombstone. The show, which will take place in a recreated Filipino disco, will reflect Mrs Marco's love for night-clubbing, the spokesman said.

"She loved the nightlife in all parts of the world, and in New York at Studio 54, so much so that she installed a disco in her NYC townhouse," he said.

In the mid-1990s, Mrs Marcos was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 12 years in prison, but her conviction was overturned on appeal. The charges were part of a wider case alleging that she and her husband had looted the economy for their personal profit.

In 2003 the Philippines high court awarded the country's government $650m from frozen bank deposits believed to have been looted by President Marcos. The deposits were all that was ever found of the Marcos fortune, which some estimates put at $10bn.

According to his website, Byrne has been working on his "disco Imelda idea" since 2004. In an online diary, he wrote: "She seemed to be living in a world entirely of her own making... which is maybe what all these people do anyway. Her union with Ferdinand was as much political and economic as emotional.".

Mrs Marco's reaction to the being portrayed in a musical is uncertain. In 2004, she sought an injunction against the screening in Manila of a documentary about her life.

At the time Mrs Marcos said that she had not given her permission for the film, which charted her rise from beauty queen to first lady. "We have to stick to the truth because the truth is God," she said at the time. "This is the problem today. Just because you are a public figure, they have the freedom to make a story."

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