There is perhaps nothing more thrilling to a Broadway fan than to stand at the stage door and get a photo and an autograph from a performer in a show. But over the weekend, one particular fan took things too far when they snuck backstage at Broadway's Here Lies Love and surprised Tony winner Lea Salonga in her dressing room. The incident was captured in a video that quickly went viral on social media, and even garnered a response from the Tony winner.
In the video, which Playbill is not posting here in respect to Salonga's privacy, Cristopher Retokelly Carpila (whose public Facebook profile labels him a digital creator) walks into Salonga's dressing room asking to take a photo with her. She then gently responds, "Who are you? I’m so sorry, I don’t know who you are." Carpila and his guest respond that they're friends with one of the show's producers, Giselle Töngi. Salonga responds, "Unless you’re on the guest list, we can’t have you back here. So you’ll have to go to the [stage]door. I’m sorry because if I allow this now, other people will take advantage." After Carpila refuses to leave the dressing room, Salonga escorts the pair out of the theatre, and takes a photo with them.
Guests going backstage after a performance at a Broadway show to meet with performers or creatives is common. But those visits are usually pre-cleared by the production's team and a guest list is created so no unauthorized visitors are let in backstage. To sneak backstage unauthorized is seen industry-wide as a safety violation and a breach of etiquette.
Afterwards, Salonga posted on Twitter that Töngi did not know who those individuals were. She also added that the same people ran up to her after the show's curtain call. Here Lies Love is a unique show because the actors perform with the audience standing around them in a nightclub atmosphere, which gives audience members unprecedented access to the actors in the show.
Wrote Salonga: "He and his companions rushed me on the dance floor after the show. Security had to surround me at that point because they got scared."
Salonga says that it's likely the two individuals snuck backstage with people who were on the guest list. "Actually, we have multiple levels of security at the theatre," she writes on Twitter. "But I had a ton of guests that night and perhaps they folded right into them. Security policies have been even more tightened." On July 17, Salonga wrote further about the increased security measures being taken on, sharing that she will no longer be meeting with guests in her dressing room.
In response, Carpila wrote on Facebook: "For Sister LEA, If ever we are wrong and we are not in the guest list, the fact that we are already there just to take pictures, lined up and paid dearly for the show, maybe as a fellow FILIPINO and FANS to be given at least a little RESPECT AND EVEN IF NO LONGER HUGS OR KISSES you can be allowed to take a PICTURE for a moment." Despite the post, the overwhelming majority of social media sentiments were on Salonga's side.
Salonga has been speaking out over the weekend against audience members not respecting performers' boundaries, tweeting, "The money you pay for a theatre/concert ticket does not mean all-access. You pay for that performer’s art, and that’s where it stops. I gotta say, the folks at the stage door have been so incredibly kind, which only makes us (well, me) enthusiastic to say hello and spend the time to talk to them." She then wrote, simply: "I have boundaries. Do not cross them. Thank you."
Salonga is currently part of the first all-Filipino cast in a Broadway show.
Here Lies Love began previews at the Broadway Theatre June 17. It opens July 20. The musical is based on the real story of Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos, whose husband Ferdinand Marcos was the 10th president of the Philippines and ruled as dictator for 20 years until 1986. The musical features a score by Grammy, Tony, and Oscar winner David Byrne and Grammy winner Fatboy Slim, with music by both, and concept and lyrics by Byrne.
Leading the cast is Arielle Jacobs as Imelda Marcos opposite Jose Llana as Ferdinand Marcos. Completing the leading trio is Conrad Ricamora as Ninoy Aquino, a Philippine senator who critiqued the Marcos family during its regime until his assassination in 1983. His murder sparked the People Power Revolution which resulted in the removal of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos from power. Both Llana and Ricamora reprise their performances from the musical's 2013 Off-Broadway run. Lea Salonga plays Aurora Aquino, Ninoy Aquino's mother, in a limited guest engagement July 11-August 13. Following her run, guest stars from the Philippines will take over the role.
Returning to the project are original director Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge) and choreographer Annie-B Parson. They are joined on the creative team by music director J. Oconer Navarro, Tony-nominated scenic designer David Korins, Tony-winning costume designer Clint Ramos, Tony-winning lighting designer Justin Townsend, sound designers M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, Tony-nominated projection designer Peter Nigrini, and cultural and community liaison Giselle “G” Töngi. Casting is by Tara Rubin, Xavier Rubiano, and Gail Quintos. Bobby Garcia served as casting consultant. General management will be by Foresight Theatrical. Tom Gandey and J Pardo have also contributed additional music for the production.