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David Bowie’s Lazarus Rises Again in Brooklyn

Vogue logo Vogue 5/2/2018 Corey Seymour
a man sitting in front of a building © Robbie Jack

If you’re one of the thousands of people who tried in vain to get tickets to the David Bowie musical Lazarus for its brief run at the New York Theatre Workshop in late 2015 and early 2016—the entire run, alas, sold out within hours—you’re in luck: Tonight, the majestic Kings Theatre in Brooklyn (if you haven’t already been there for a concert, look at their calendar and make a plan) hosts a one-off film showing of Lazarus’s later London production on an enormous screen, soundtracked by the same seven-piece band that backed the show’s original New York run.

What’s in store: Nearly 20 Bowie songs, newly arranged by the Ivo van Hove–directed production, including four new songs Bowie created for the production. As for the story (the book was cowritten by Enda Walsh): If you’ve seen Nicolas Roeg’s masterful film The Man Who Fell to Earth (starring, of course, Bowie himself, in his greatest screen role), you’ll have some footing here, with Michael C. Hall playing Thomas Jerome Newton, the extraterrestrial who crash-landed on our planet in Walter Tevis’s 1963 novel, which served as the basis for Roeg’s film. Lazarus, though—while also relying on Tevis’s novel—carried the story further by a few decades, with Thomas living a stylishly anesthetized life in a Manhattan penthouse, where he thinks back on his past life and loves until some strange visitors arrive promising redemption and return.

I’m afraid that’s about the best I can do regarding the nuts and bolts of the plot, which is admittedly hazy and laden with shifting identities and odd, clipped speech patterns. But with a soundtrack as rich and deep as this—and a backstory that wasn’t yet written when the play debuted in 2015 (Bowie died only weeks later)—this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Bowie fans, or music fans, or theater fans, or all of the above, to witness something rare and beautiful.

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