By: Patrick Christiano
Ivo van Hove’s surreal staging of Lazarus for The New York Theater Workshop revisits the powerful and wealthy character of Thomas Newton, created by David Bowie in Nicholas Roeg’s 1976 film “The Man Who Fell from the Earth.” However, before the film there was a 1963 novel and Edna Walsh’s book for the musical goes back to the novel by beginning at the end of the film. Michael C. Hall
Newton’s past has left him with nothing to lose, and now retired he is holed up in his New York penthouse high in the sky on a diet of vodka and candy. He never leaves the isolation of his prison in there where he is lost in time pining for Marylou, struggling to find a way back to her, or is he waiting for death?
In van Hove’s startling staging his widows give him glimpses of the world below moving on without him. And a gigantic video screen dominates the center of the room presenting flickering images of Newton’s life often in real time replicating the ongoing stage action.
Michael C. Hall of television’s “Dexter” fresh off a knock out performance as Hedwig on Broadway in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, gives a terrifically demanding physical performance as the lost soul Newton. Hall is laying on stage as the audience fills the house, and he never once leaves or abandons Newton’s desperate plight to find a way out of his madness. Newton was the man with the Midas touch, yet now he has possibly lost touch with reality, struggling to fathom truth from illusion, a man trapped in his head.
Lazarus isn’t a regular musical. The evening is more a mesmerizing happening, a mashup of Bowie’s music presented like a two-hour music video. When Hall launches into Bowie’s “It’s No Game,” from the artist’s “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps” the show veers into unique territory. This is where Lazarus works best. Lazarus merges together selections of Bowie’s music, album covers, and music videos, to become a retrospective of the artist’s career and ideas. Although there is new music in the show most of the songs are vintage Bowie, all preformed with an excellent 7-piece band.
The cast of Lazarus stars Golden Globe winner and six-time Emmy nominee Michael C. Hall as Thomas Newton and features Tony Award nominee Cristin Milioti as Elly, Michael Esper as Valentine, Krystina Alabado, Sophia Anne Caruso, Nicholas Christopher, Lynn Craig, Bobby Moreno, Krista Pioppi, Charlie Pollock, and Brynn Williams.
The production features scenic and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld, costume design by An D’Huys, video design by Tal Yarden, sound design by Brian Ronan, choreography by Annie-B Parson, and music direction by Henry Hey.
Lazarus is now playing at the New York Theatre Workshop, 79 East Fourth Street, through January 20, 2016. The show is sold out. For more information, call 212-460-4575.
Photos: Jan Versweyveld
Michael C. Hall, Sophia Anne Caruso in Lazarus