A Reviews Round-up for David Bowie’s new off-Broadway musical Lazarus
The world premiere production of Lazarus, by David Bowie and Tony Award-winning playwright Enda Walsh opened Off-Broadway on 7 December at the New York Theatre Workshop.
Directed by Ivo van Hove and starring Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Hedwig), Lazarus is inspired by Walter Tevis’ best-selling 1963 novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” which was subsequently made into a film starring Bowie, and features new songs specially composed by Bowie as well as new arrangements of previously recorded songs.
Whilst reviews are mixed, one thing is certain – Lazarus is bold, confusing and like no other musical you are likely to see anytime soon. Let’s hope it transfers to the West End soon.
Lazarus is inspired by Walter Tevis’ best-selling 1963 novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” about a human-looking alien who comes to Earth seeking a way to bring water back to his dying home planet. It was also adapted into a film in 1976 starring Bowie in the lead role of Thomas Newton.
The cast includes Krystina Alabado (Teenage Girl 1), Sophia Anne Caruso (Girl), Nicholas Christopher (Ben), Lynn Craig (Maemi), Michael Esper (Valentine), Michael C. Hall (Newton), Cristin Milioti (Elly), Bobby Moreno (Zach), Krista Pioppi (Teenage Girl 2), Charlie Pollock (Michael) and Brynn Williams (Teenage Girl 3)
Lazarus By David Bowie and Enda Walsh, inspired by the novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth” by Walter Tevis; directed by Ivo van Hove; sets and lighting by Jan Versweyveld; costumes by An D’Huys; video by Tal Yarden; sound by Brian Ronan; music director, Henry Hey; choreography by Annie-B Parson; dramaturgy by Jan Peter Gerrits.
Lazarus plays from 18 November 2015 until 20 January 2016 at New York Theatre Workshop.
Lazarus will transfer to London’s Kings Cross Theatre from 25 October 2016 starring Michael C Hall.
Average rating score for this production:
“It's the freakiest sho-o-o-ow. Lazarus, in which Bowie revisits the character he played in the 1976 cult movie, The Man Who Fell to Earth, arrives with massive anticipation. The show is an alienation alt-musical that channels the trippy dream state of an alcoholic extraterrestrial insomniac. So the two intermission-less hours of Lazarus are predictably strange, often impenetrable and a tad pretentious, but always fascinating, even when distancing. Is it a play with music or a musical? Either way it's jammed full of Bowie tracks — the best of them from the '70s — plus a couple of new songs, all expertly performed by an ace cast led by Michael C. Hall. And it includes stunning video elements that overlap and merge with the physical action in mesmerizing ways. For longtime Bowie fans, the show's sampling of his back catalog will be reward enough, with songs used both literally and atmospherically. Striking interludes are woven around "Changes," "Life on Mars?," "Absolute Beginners," "All the Young Dudes," "Always Crashing in the Same Car" and "It's No Game (Part 1)," the latter involving a geisha emerging from the screen to interact with Newton." Hollywood Reporter
“Bowie's baffling starman lands off-Broadway. This should be a terrible show. This jukebox musical based on The Man Who Fell to Earth is a thrilling theatrical odyssey – and almost impossible to understand.” The Guardian
“Ice-cold bolts of ecstasy shoot like novas through the glamorous muddle and murk of Lazarus, the great-sounding, great-looking and mind-numbing new musical built around songs by David Bowie. You usually feel you’ve ascended to a special tier of heaven, one produced by MTV” New York Times
“You don’t have to be a David Bowie fan or have seen his starring role as a Martian in the 1976 Nicolas Roeg film “The Man Who Fell To Earth” to appreciate the new musical “Lazarus.” But it might help in following the plot of the darkly imaginative production. It’s a colorful, avant-garde deconstruction.” Washington Post
“It’s like one of those old-timey TV Christmas specials, in which an isolated celebrity receives visits from other stars, trades banter and duets on beloved carols. “That the piece unfolds in dream logic, or as a fever dream, is fairly obvious in the first 10 minutes, so best to let it wash over you without worrying about sequence or connections. Such detachment is easy to achieve—even thrilling—when Milioti warbles “Changes” with such seething, repressed intensity, it’s like hearing that glorious anthem for the first time. Bowie’s songs (accompanied by an onstage band) come across beautifully, and when Lazarus works, it’s as a trippy series of live music videos. Any marriage of Bowie’s hits to a theatrical structure is bound to be unstable, especially if the end goal is not a jukebox musical, but Walsh’s lack of originality and depth makes the enterprise seem more earthbound.” Time Out New York
"Having now seen Lazarus and read the script and revisited The Man Who Fell To Earth, I can confidently report that David Bowie has landed on East Fourth Street with a work of blistering nihilism, no small sum of inscrutable foolishness and a fistful of the most brilliant contemporary rock you will hear anywhere." Deadline
“It’s the best jukebox musical ever. That may not sound like much of a compliment, but when you put David Bowie‘s musical catalogue at the service of book writers Bowie and Enda Walsh and director Ivo van Hove, the result is more than unique. It’s terrific must-see theater.” The Wrap
“You’d have as much luck raising the dead as you would making heads or tails of the hyperactive and hallucinogenic David Bowie jukebox musical Lazarus.” Daily News
“Like its source material, the two-hour affair, co-written with “Once” playwright Enda Walsh, raises issues of identity and alienation. We’re never sure if a character is real or in Newton’s mind. We just know he’d rather be anywhere than here. You’re strongly advised to be familiar with the bare outlines of Tevis’ story beforehand. “Lazarus” is eye-catching and mystifying -- I wish it explained itself more - but certainly never boring.” NBC New York
Date: 14 December 2015
Written by: WestEndTheatre
Tags: David Bowie, Enda Walsh, Ivo van Hove, Lazarus, Michael C. Hall, New York Theatre Workshop, Off-Broadway, The Man Who Fell to Earth