Lazarus, an off-broadway show featuring 18 songs by David Bowie, is one of the hottest plays in New York right now, with the biggest ticket demand in the New York Theater Workshop’s 36-year production history. Many critics say part of its charm is the stellar performance by Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall.
The D.C. Theater Scene reports that Hall plays Thomas Jerome Newton in the the play, written by Bowie and Irish playwright Enda Walsh. Newton, an alien based off the 1976 film, The Man Who Fell to Earth, returns to Earth to water the planet. In Lazarus, Newton fails the mission and becomes earthbound, living as a lonesome alcoholic.
Lazarus takes place 30 years after Newton made a fortune, in a room with a messy bed, a refrigerator, and walls adorned with tinted windows and a seven-piece band. Although he claims to not miss his previous life filled with sensation, the tone of the play indicates that Newton is desperately yearning for something, which leads him to chug down gin and eat Twinkies.
Hall, who most critics say is doing an exceptional job playing the lonely Newton, sings the majority of the songs in the play. Variety reports that Hall “gives it all” he has during his performance. Despite a few critics who didn’t understand some of the artsy risks taken in the play, others, such as reviewers from AP, praised Hall’s talent.
“The plot may be murky, but van Hove’s direction is precise, and it’s crystal clear that the production is packed with talent.”
A Rolling Stone critic stated that not only did the play provide many twists and turns, but the story never crawled or paused, and kept the crowd entertained for two hours without intermission.
“At its core, Lazarus is a two-hour meditation on grief and lost hope (with no intermission), but it takes so many wild, fantastical, eye-popping turns that it never drags.”
In addition to Hall’s performance, the mix of old and new songs by Bowie has resulted in mostly sold-out shows. In fact, ticket sales for the play’s December 7 premiere sold out within hours of its October 7 sale date. Although Bowie doesn’t appear in the Lazarus, fans are enjoying an eclectic selection of the singer’s songs, ranging from new, edgy tunes to some of his older, popular melodies, such as “Changes” and “The Man Who Sold the World.”
Last year, Hall starred as an East German transgender in the Broadway play, Hedwig and the Angry Itch, or simply Hedwig for short. The actor said it was his role in Hedwig that led him to win the part of Newton, after director Ivo van Hove watched him perform.
“Ivo van Hove, the director of Lazarus, saw me in Hedwig. That served as an audition of sorts. I felt charged with a responsibility given how much I love that show. I wanted to honor and guard it. Plus, I got to perform kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll songs.”
Hall, a Bowie fan himself, remembered being thrilled when he landed the role. He said that his love for Bowie’s music stems back to his elementary school days, when his friend’s brother used to play the 1975 Young Americans album.
“I was in third or fourth grade, and I remember hearing my friend’s older brother’s copy of Young Americans on the turntable.”
Tickets for the upcoming shows of Lazarus are sparse at best. For more information and a chance to see Michael C. Hall live, visit the official New York Theater Workshop’s ticket page for more information.
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