It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Like a MTV alien version of Ray Milland’s the “Lost Weekend” Lazarus is two hours inside the mind of a man so tortured that he relies on alcohol to get through the day, the month, the year, forever. Meant as a staged sequel to David Bowie’s 1976 “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, the script is based on the 1963 science fiction novel by Walter Tervis. The back-story is Thomas Newton (Bowie in the film), is an extraterrestrial who came to Earth because his planet is in need of water. As the film ends, he’s failed to fulfill his mission, feel alienated, rich, turns to alcohol as he is stuck on Earth… alone. In present time on stage Newton (Michael C Hall on stage) has retired. He watches TV and drinks to get through his never ending life, his soul dying just a little but more every day. Elly (Cristin Milioti, “How I Met Your Mother”) is Newton’s personal assistant. A bit on the psychotic side she becomes obsessed with her boss trying to become the women he cannot get over, Mary-Lou in order to get him in bed. Newton wants none of it. In the meantime, Elly’s marriage to Zach (the under used Bobby Moreno) is failing.
In Newton’s stupper people come out of the TV including a young girl (Sophia Anne Caruso), whose mission is to get Newton back home. Three other’s also urge on this camaraderie between the girl and Newton.
Valentine (Michael Esper) breaks up couples that have love and most of all hope. Think along the lines of the Saint Valentine Massacre.
Though a jukebox musical, there are four new songs. What is so interesting about this piece is that this 45 plus years in retrospect of the Bowie catalogue takes on new meanings when sung by this mostly exquisite cast. Sophia Anne Caruso singing “Life on Mars” is an ethereal chant that is heavenly. 18 songs which include: “All the Young Dudes,” “Always Crashing in the Same Car,” “Changes,” “‘Heroes,” “The Man Who Sold The World” and “This Is Not America” will thrill Bowie and non-Bowie fans alike. This score if it moves to Broadway could give Hamilton a run for its money. There is no wonder why Lazarus is the hottest ticket in New York right now.
Ivo van Hove has created a visceral world. For two hours nobody clapped, coughed or made a sound, they were so engrossed. The set is sparse: an open fridge filled with gin, a bed, a record player with LPs of David Bowie of course, and plastic windows that let us preview the fabulous band. A large white screen represents a TV where character step in and out of, including Alan Cumming. The remarkable projects by Tal Yarden and the luminescent lighting by Jan Versweyveld (also set) are perfectly done and can see both of them being nominated next year.
Lazarus, is written by Bowie and Enda Walsh (Once) and though some may not understand this piece, I can guarantee any one who has gone through a tremendous amount of loss and grief, who feels they are only marking time on this earth, will completely understand. The demonic, incarnate souls who hash about and weave through trying to leave their imprint is more common than we think.
Michael C. Hall is superb as Newton channeling his inner Bowie. Michael Esper and Nicholas Christopher shine in their moments in the sun. Esper is a chilling villain. Cristin Milioti has me a little confused. Though she is as bendable as a Gumby, vocally she is out of her league. She sticks out like a sore thumb because she is so over the top, while everybody else though dreamlike and surreal is real. Who I loved and I can not wait to see more of is Sophia Anne Caruso, oh my God what a voice. This girl can sing anything and it is clear, with a never ending range. Her acting is layered and profound and she is only fourteen. Bravo!
A little piece of you
The little piece in me
For this is not America
You will either love this show or not get it. Me I love it. No matter how you feel this show is poignant with the lyrics revealing a little bit more prophecy considering most of these were written in the 70’s.
Lazarus: New York Theatre Workshop, 79 East 4th St., until Jan. 20th.