Dubbed “The Greatest Rock Star Ever” by Rolling Stones magazine, multi-talented David Bowie was musician, composer, actor, performer, and both a star and icon with one of the biggest cult followings in popular culture. In 1976, he starred in the British science fiction film, “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” his first movie. When remembering his starring role in the film, Bowie remarked, “I’m so pleased I made that, but I didn’t really know what was being made at all…I just threw my real self into that movie…my instinct was pretty dissipated…I was stoned out of my mind from beginning to end.” His musical LAZARUS – based on Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel and film “The Man Who Fell to Earth” – premiered off-Broadway in 2015 with music and lyrics by Bowie and book by Enda Walsh. Sadly, Bowie died in 2016 at the height of his career. On what would have been Bowie’s 74th birthday, January 8, 2021, producers Robert Fox and RZO Entertainment, Inc. are releasing the filmed London production of LAZARUS for three streamed performances.
Directed by Ivo Van Hove and starring Michael C. Hall, LAZARUS weaves the tale of Thomas Jerome Newton, an extraterrestrial who crash lands on Earth while seeking water to send to his home planet, slowly dying from a catastrophic drought. He soon amasses a huge fortune by gatting patents on the advanced technology of his planet. Meanwhile, Thomas meets Mary Lou, a young woman who teaches Thomas all about Earth’s pleasures, including alcohol, sex, and TV. But then Mary Lou discovers Thomas’ alien form and flees. While Thomas tries to escape his memories, he becomes a captive of the government. Enter LAZARUS, Bowie’s musical adaptation of Tevis’ novel.
LAZARUS opens with Thomas, a mere shadow of his former self, a captive in his small apartment in the East Village. Alcohol-sodden, depressed, and out of touch with the world as we know it, Thomas mourns the loss of his past love, Mary Lou. Soon, he loses the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy as he interacts with the people (or perhaps non-people) around him. As dreams and fantasy intertwine, Thomas begins his melt down, bit by bit. From the angelic waif to the blue-haired, sequined siren, Thomas faces a reality which he cannot handle: He cannot die. He is forced to live inside his own head haunted by a past love. Mayhem and murder are sure to follow. Along with a rocket ship. Interspersed with the dialog are songs, some newer and some older, along with a few well-placed quotes from Shakespeare.
LAZARUS is a highly creative piece which uses light and shadow to highlight unreal fantasies. The talented cast makes the most of the music; and, on occasion, a live band straddles the back of the stage. Kudos to Jan Versweyveld for scenic and lighting design, An D’Huys for costumes, Tal Yarden for video design, Annie-B Parson for choreography, Brian Ronan and Tony Gayle for sound, and Henry Hey for musical direction. Above all, LAZARUS is part dream state and part fantasy, a mixture of the real and the unreal in a gin/drug-addled moment. Space and time are fluid, and any chronology is purely accidental. Bowie’s cult following will clearly be charmed by LAZARUS.
LAZARUS streams from January 8 through January 10, 2021 only. On Friday, 1/8/21, and Saturday 1/9/21, the show streams in Australia and New Zealand at 7 p.m. AEDT; in UK and Ireland at 7 p.m. GMT; in Europe at 8 p.m. CET; and in the U.S. and Canada at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST. On Sunday 1/10/21, the show streams in Australia and New Zealand at 3 p.m. AEDT; in UK and Ireland at 3 p.m. GM; in Europe at 4 p.m. CET; and in the U.S. and Canada at 1 p.m. PST/4 p.m. EST. For more information about how to stream the show, go online.