David Bowie's Lazarus is a Major Win for The Production Company 2019 Season - Noise11.com
iOTA in Lazarus for The Production Company

iOTA in Lazarus for The Production Company photo by Mary Boukouvalas

David Bowie’s Lazarus is a Major Win for The Production Company 2019 Season

by Paul Cashmere on May 22, 2019

in News

With the staging of Australia’s first production of David Bowie’s final work ‘Lazarus’, The Production Company has taken a giant risk moving outside its comfort zone. It was the right decision to make.

‘Lazarus’ is the continuing story of Thomas Jerome Newton 40 years on from when he was introduced in David Bowie’s first movie ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’. Bowie played Newton in the movie, an alien who becomes marooned on Earth and who, as immortal, is confronted with human mortality. Frustrated, and unable to return home, he becomes depressed and an alcoholic while by contrast, his brilliant mind developing and patenting inventions makes him a tech-billionaire.

The challenge for David Bowie and co-creator Enda Walsh with ‘Lazarus’ as a musical was to maintain the continuity of the story sourced across the catalogue and pieced together with new music articulating the new storyline.

Lazarus cast photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Lazarus cast Melbourne 2019 – photo by Mary Boukouvalas

‘Lazarus’ features four new songs written by Bowie for the musical and recorded around the time of his final album ‘Blackstar’. ‘Lazarus’, ‘No Plan’, ‘Killing A Little Time’ and ‘When I Met You’ are some of David’s last work.

The older songs contain some deep Bowie cuts. ‘It’s No Game’ from ‘Scary Monsters’ and ‘Valentine’s Day’ and ‘Love Is Lost’ from the more recent ‘The Next Day’ were chosen for the relevance of their lyrical content to the storyline. Even ‘This Is Not America’, ‘Always Crashing In The Same Car’ and ‘Absolute Beginners’ while known to Bowie fans aren’t Bowie’s better known songs. However, when you hear ‘Heroes’, ‘Life On Mars’, ‘Changes’ you are reminded that this musical is Bowie.

David also stayed away from his obvious “Space Man” songs when creating this musical. ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Loving The Alien’ and ‘Starman’ aren’t included in ‘Lazarus’. That’s a good thing. In doing so, this musical avoids the cliché greatest hits karaoke-style show that Mamma Mia was, for example.

Chris Ryan, who last year starred in The Production Company’s ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder’ makes an excellent Newton. As Newton the songs ‘Lazarus’, ‘Where Are We Now’ and ‘Killing A Little Time’ become his showcase pieces, as does ‘Heroes’ with Emily Milledge (Girl) at the end of the show.

Emily Milledge’s Girl character has a major role to play in the telling of the story. Is she real or part of Newton’s imagination? Is Michael or Valentine real or do they represent various conflicts in Newton’s psyche? It is never really explained. Emily presents the ‘Lazarus’ original song ‘No Plan’ as well as the all-time classic ‘Life On Mars?’.

iOTA as Valentine presents two of the more recent Bowie songs, ‘Dirty Boys’ and ‘Valentine’s Day’, two deep cuts from 2013’s ‘The Next Day’. He is a veteran of Bowie performance. When he is dressed in the Pierrot costume towards the end it bookends with Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ imagery.


Lazarus cast photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Lazarus cast Melbourne 2019 – photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Like the Mike Garson Bowie show that was coincidentally only in Melbourne one week earlier, the various voices are necessary to present the scope of Bowie’s genius and using a musical to do so is a wonderful tribute to one of the greatest stars of the last century.

Visually ‘Lazarus’ is leaps and bounds ahead of anything The Production Company has attempted before. The technology and synchronicity involved in perfectly matching the vision with the sound came down to split-second timing. The lighting created the mystique to set the scene that enhanced every note of every song. Natasha Pincus from Melbourne’s Stark Raving productions had a cast of a dozen just to do the visuals. Director Michael Kantor was not only tying acting with singing with movement with the story but also orchestrating it all with these images. ‘Lazarus’ is a surgical operation to piece together and it went without a hitch.

There are so many people to credit in making this show happen but one person who should be congratulated for making this happen is The Production Company Executive Director Rachel Taylor who I hear personally championed getting this production over the line.

‘Lazarus’ is a magnificent win for The Production Company. This is the sort of innovative show that will attract a younger audience to the theatre. It broadens the appeal of The Production Company offering without interfering with the family-friendly shows ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ and ‘Ragtime’ still to come this season.

Lazarus cast photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Lazarus cast Melbourne 2019 – photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Visit The Production Company website for details of the 2019 season.

The song from Lazarus are:

1. “Lazarus” (from Blackstar, 2016)
2. “It’s No Game (Part 1)” (from Scary Monsters, 1980)
3. “This Is Not America” (from The Falcon and the Snowman, 1985)
4. “The Man Who Sold the World” (from The Man Who Sold the World, 1970)
5. “No Plan” (from No Plan EP, 2017)
6. “Love Is Lost” (from The Next Day, 2013)
7. “Changes” (from Hunky Dory, 1971)
8. “Where Are We Now?” (from The Next Day, 2013)
9. “Absolute Beginners” (from, Absolute Beginners soundtrack,1986)
10. “Dirty Boys” (from The Next Day, 2013)
11. “Killing A Little Time” (from No Plan EP, 2017)
12. “Life on Mars?” (from Hunky Dory, 1971)
13. “All the Young Dudes” (Bowie song from 1972)
14. “Always Crashing in the Same Car” (from Low, 1977)
15. “Valentine’s Day” (from The Next Day, 2013)
16. “When I Met You” (from No Plan EP, 2017)
17. “”Heroes”” (written by Bowie and Brian Eno) (from “Heroes”, 1977)


David Bowie from the Lazarus finale

Lazarus creator David Bowie honored in the show finale

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