Lazarus NYC Reviews and Tickets

72%
(94 Reviews)
Positive
71%
Mixed
17%
Negative
12%
Members say
Confusing, Great acting, Edgy, Ambitious, Absorbing

About the Show

New York Theatre Workshop presents this sci-fi production, with songs by David Bowie and directed by Ivo van Hove, about a human-looking alien who comes to Earth seeking a way to bring water back to his home planet.

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Member Reviews (94)

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63
See almost any show directed by ivo van hove but probably not this one

See it if you enjoy kinetic performance by Cristin Milioti (Once), brilliantly innovative use of video screens, and David Bowie anthems

Don't see it if you need to see a linear play/play with which you connect or don't like high concept plays (play shows "yearning" in various forms)

93
Absorbing, Epic, Intense, Quirky, Exquisite

See it if You're a fan of David Bowie. You like experimental theatre. You like stories that are open to interpretation. You want great singing.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of David Bowie. You prefer more traditional theatre. You prefer stories that have only 1 interpretation.

Critic Reviews (39)

The New York Times
December 7th, 2015

"The great-sounding, great-looking and mind-numbing new musical built around songs by David Bowie...The script, by Mr. Bowie and Mr. Walsh, switches between passages of flat-footed, literal-minded exposition and cryptic collegiate dialogue...The rest of the cast members don’t always sound convinced by what they are required to say. You become impatient for the characters to stop talking and start singing again."
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Time Out New York
December 7th, 2015

"There’s precious little cheer to be had at 'Lazarus,' as it circles around a dramatic void...Despite the attractive ensemble’s sweaty, passionate effort and van Hove’s cinematic staging, there is a book...And that book more often bogs down in a portentous mode one might call In Yer Face Beckett Lite. Walsh’s elliptical, fragmentary scenes evoke a melancholy-menacing vibe, but fail to make us care much...Walsh’s lack of originality and depth makes the enterprise seem more earthbound."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
December 7th, 2015

"So much imaginative horsepower has gone into the project that your contribution (and too often, it seems, your presence) is hardly wanted...The problem, for theatergoers looking for characters and narrative and the other useful trappings of drama, is that with all the visual and aural information, there is almost no room for any other kind. We get tics instead of personality, symbols instead of story, and, with few exceptions, dialogue that is spectacularly uninformative."
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The Hollywood Reporter
December 7th, 2015

"The show is an alienation alt-musical that channels the trippy dream state of an alcoholic extraterrestrial insomniac. So the two hours of 'Lazarus' are predictably strange, often impenetrable and a tad pretentious, but always fascinating, even when distancing...Whether or not the outre folly of 'Lazarus' pays off is wide open to debate, but this may well be the nearest thing to a Bowie musical that any of us could have hoped for."
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Variety
December 8th, 2015

"The artsy stage piece has been directed by the iconoclast Belgian director Ivo van Hove, which guarantees a more theatrical kind of weirdness...There are some new songs in the show, but most of them are vintage Bowie and deeply appreciated during the many dull moments in this baffling show...Hall delivers them with all he’s got. But nothing he says (or sings) is especially illuminating about the show — or why we’re still here, puzzling over what it all means."
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Deadline
December 8th, 2015

"A work of blistering nihilism, no small sum of inscrutable foolishness and a fistful of the most brilliant contemporary rock you will hear anywhere...I can also say with some certainty that director Ivo van Hove has a rich imagination ideal for this wild ride...Van Hove and choreographer Annie-B Parson — have conspired brilliantly to bring this world — of missed connections, of inner and outer space, of longing and brutal rejection — electrifyingly to life."
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Chicago Tribune
December 7th, 2015

"Hunky-dory? Not entirely. Not yet...That which is outside of the main issue of going home, or not going home, just does not work. That's because you don't care about it, nor about the instigators of the subplots...'Lazarus' has visual sophistication, pan-sexual weirdness, historicism, the eclectic musical rush of the gorgeous. But in the theater, the shadows of characters in song need flesh, bones and reasons to believe in them."
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New York Post
December 8th, 2015

“'Lazarus' is a jukebox musical by and for people who think they’re too good for jukebox musicals...The source material’s sci-fi plot is largely gone, replaced with chic modernist alienation...Your guess is as good as mine as to what’s going on, though a handful of scenes will stick with you...Equally impressive is how much Hall sounds like Bowie when he sings. The effect is downright eerie — a lot more so than the show as a whole."
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New York Daily News
December 7th, 2015

"You’d have as much luck raising the dead as you would making heads or tails of the hyperactive and hallucinogenic David Bowie jukebox musical 'Lazarus.' Far out? You bet. What’s it about? Who the heck knows?...As in most jukebox shows, tunes are shoehorned in, but at least it’s very tasty ear candy... Despite being blessed with Bowie cool and an ace catalog, 'Lazarus' is a two-hour endurance test."
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AM New York
December 7th, 2015

"Belgian director Ivo van Hove creates an experimental production that depends heavily on wall-to-wall video projections of offstage locations and characters...It's baffling as hell and unapologetically avant-garde. But if you're up for something like this, its arresting visuals, dreamlike atmosphere and introspective Bowie songs have the potential to keep you entranced for two straight hours without intermission."
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Theatermania
December 7th, 2015

"Featuring a powerfully melodic score and an enigmatic storyline, 'Lazarus' expands the mythology while maintaining many of the bizarre qualities that made the film a cult classic...The show suffers from the same problems of every musical that attempts to shoehorn a preexisting song catalogue into a contrived plot...'Lazarus' doesn't look or feel like any other musical currently playing New York. Even when it is not entirely lucid, it is still thrilling to behold."
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Lighting & Sound America
December 9th, 2015

"Other shows had identifiable characters and comprehensible plots, which is more than you can say about 'Lazarus'...Basically, the script is a chic, hollow frame designed to set off a playlist of Bowie hits, none of which are especially suited to the story being told, even if they match its grimly downbeat mood...Whatever one expected of this starry creative team, the morose, often pretentious repurposing of some appealing pop hits from three or four decades past isn't it."
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Talkin' Broadway
December 7th, 2015

"Though it's an intriguing experiment, it's a success only if you think getting a David Bowie musical to open in New York is itself a praiseworthy achievement...Bowie's goal seems to have been to write an explosive, fluid, free-form work that wouldn't stop moving and evolving...What's been produced instead is lumpy, self-important, and soulless...Right now 'Lazarus,' like the biblical figure of the same name, is just plain D.O.A."
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TheaterScene.net
December 25th, 2015

"An engrossing sound and light show with a psychedelic rock concert, not all of it making realistic sense…While the story may seem vague and mystical, the actors all have a handle on their characters...At times it does seem as though there are too many stories being told...'Lazarus' offers the viewer the experience of an organized happening. Not for everyone, 'Lazarus' is for David Bowie fans as well as those looking for something unusual in music theater."
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Theater Pizzazz
December 9th, 2015

"Admittedly, the show’s new book by Tony winner Enda Walsh doesn’t always hold one’s attention or easily meld with Bowie’s music...Yet, what grounds the show is the central performance of Michael C. Hall as Newton...This powerful actor not only captures Newton’s desperation, but he has practically transformed his voice into Bowie’s, giving added resonance to such songs as 'Heroes' and 'Absolute Beginners.' It’s one of the year’s most memorable star turns."
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CurtainUp
December 7th, 2015

"The stage production has been imaginatively reconceived as a mind-bending theatrical experience. It is a stunning achievement for all involved...a credible and striking union between the purely fantastical, the deeper divisions of the mind as well as the many darker dimensions of human behavior...Allows us to see into the heart of Bowie's music as an entry into a frightening but also unforgettable world."
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Exeunt Magazine
December 9th, 2015

"Essentially one big pop song written for the stage...This ought to be a liberating conceit, but the story demands constantly to be taken seriously…It also feels at times like the music has had all the wind knocked out of it...The direction and design provide some blessed relief...Incredibly, for a work marshaling so much talent and exciting so much anticipation, Lazarus lacks inspiration of all things, and that’s the hardest thing to forgive here."
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DC Theatre Scene
December 11th, 2015

"Unlike your typical jukebox musical, there also doesn’t seem to be an extensive effort to connect the lyrics of the songs to what is going on in the scene beforehand...the story is not 'Lazarus’ strongest suit...Given the right frame of mind – it helps to be a Bowie fan, and to have seen the movie or read the book – the story is a tantalizing mystery."
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The Guardian (UK)
December 7th, 2015

"It will be many years before we see a jukebox musical as unapologetically weird as 'Lazarus,' an almost incomprehensible and intriguing new play...This should be a terrible show. It seems unlikely that it is what its collaborators imagined, and what they have created makes little sense. But they are so extravagantly talented and the performers undertake what’s asked of them with such verve that it’s nearly impossible not to be persuaded and at least a little thrilled."
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The Clyde Fitch Report
December 8th, 2015

"'Lazarus' is captivating, but not necessarily to everyone’s immediate taste and not without occasionally dry and/or confounding patches...This is also to say that the logic of 'Lazarus' often crosses into the illogical — it helps to liken this show not to standard stage musicals but music videos. Yet if music videos are often the driver of the show’s charm, it is also the source of some befuddlement."
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The Huffington Post
December 7th, 2015

"What it all means, or is supposed to mean, is for them to know and you to find out, although after two intermissionless hours you might no longer feel the need to know. The assorted components of the production team are unquestionably visionary. Sometimes, alas, the collective vision isn't quite realized....Perhaps they shall continue to work on the material elsewhere...At this point, though, 'Lazarus' is uninvolving, mighty odd, and you can't get a ticket."
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The Wrap
December 7th, 2015

"It’s the best jukebox musical ever. That may not sound like much of a compliment, but when you put David Bowie‘s musical catalogue at the service of book writers Bowie and Enda Walsh and director Ivo van Hove, the result is more than unique. It’s terrific must-see theater."
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Broadway & Me
December 12th, 2015

"'Lazarus' is far from being the most lucid show around…Luckily, van Hove has created captivating stage images that kept us leaning in even when we didn't know what they meant. And the music rocks…Of course, fitting the songs into the book is less of a problem when the book isn't all that coherent to begin with…Michael C. Hall, Cristin Milloti, and Michael Esper are all in great voice and throw themselves into their performances with passionate abandon."
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Newsday
December 7th, 2015

"It would be ridiculous to describe it as another jukebox musical...a riveting multimedia meditation — a visceral, disturbing, hallucinatory experience that’s as nonlinear and chameleonic as the rock star himself...Some songs and avant-garde techniques may seem like throwbacks. But this is urgent, stirring, genuine rock art — musical theater like nothing that has fallen to Earth before."
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Daily Beast
December 8th, 2015

"If 'Lazarus’' story isn’t always clear, its recurring themes are reasserted in the text and music. The spoken word feels harder to hear than the sung one—and both are blown utterly out of the water by the brilliant video projections and lighting of the show...In some sense, this is Bowie’s 'Mamma Mia!'; the artiest form of the jukebox musical—far from cheesy, but any true Bowie-phile will be tapping their feet as much as scratching their head."
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NorthJersey.com
December 9th, 2015

"The reason for the enthusiasm can be explained in two words: David Bowie. The iconic rock star, and sometime actor, is not in the musical, but he's written the score, a mix of old and new songs...Visually striking. Musically compelling. And a bit of a muddle. If you aren't familiar with the novel or film, the story's progression will be very hard to follow...'Lazarus' pulses with the energy of Bowie's songs, which range from edgy to romantic, but the evening's stylization tends to deflect emotions."
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WNBC
December 7th, 2015

"We’re never sure if a character is real or in Newton’s mind. We just know he’d rather be anywhere than here. You’re strongly advised to be familiar with the bare outlines of Tevis’ story beforehand. 'Lazarus' is eye-catching and mystifying - I wish it explained itself more - but certainly never boring."
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Act Three - The Reviews
December 9th, 2015

"A bizarre, fantastical, and imaginative look in to the mind of a man. Make no bones about it - this production, by its very nature, is bizarre. Very bizarre...The play itself has always been discordant, imaginative, and vague. It's the nature of dreams, insanity, and mental illness. Helmed by hot Belgian experimental 'it' director, Ivo van Hove, this particular production adds potent, strong, and lavish music to the equation. The combination is magical."
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Village Voice
December 8th, 2015

"Jukebox musicals can be delightful. Fans celebrating legendary musicians, new choreographies set to old rhythms, strange stories told with familiar lyrics. Unfortunately, 'Lazarus,' is not this kind of jukebox musical...All the oddness might be worth your patience if it created the kind of truly hallucinatory strangeness you'd think a David Bowie musical would muster. In this case, though, better to stay home wondering if there's life on Mars than come to the theater and find out there isn't."
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Reflections in the Light
January 18th, 2016

"I found the show edgy, interesting and thought-provoking, if a little hard to follow...There is a lot of metaphor in there and thoughts and lyrics about death and dying, which makes the show so haunting in the face of its composer's death."
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American Theater Web
December 8th, 2015

"Strands of plot and motivation whirl together in what could be described as an electro-kaleidoscope of text, song, and imagery...The cumulative effect of this the show becomes one of both frustration and rapt fascination. It’s pretty difficult to not get sucked in by the remarkably intense and thoughtful performances...The problem is that even as 'Lazarus' draws theatergoers in, it delivers confusing roadblocks."
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The Associated Press
December 7th, 2015

"Darkly imaginative production...a colorful, avant-garde deconstruction...The plot may be murky, but van Hove's direction is precise, and it's crystal clear that the production is packed with talent...While many of the musical numbers feel relevant to the action, Bowie's often-enigmatic lyrics don't enlighten us much about what's going on...Although this is definitely not a feel-good musical, it's a pleasure to hear some of Bowie's memorable classics so well performed."
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Show Showdown
December 11th, 2015

“A self-important mess…'Lazarus' plays like it was assembled by email…A long, frustrating and almost completely humorless two hours, during which underdrawn characters don't really connect with one another or translate to the audience. Instead, they stumble numbly through a forced semblance of nonplot, pausing occasionally to bust out (very well) with Bowie songs that really do sound great."
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Theatre Reviews by John Clum
January 6th, 2016

"I must admit that I spent most of 'Lazarus' in a state of bafflement...This is not a show with a linear narrative or anything resembling conventional dramatic characters. The question is whether there is anything to relate to emotionally...I'm afraid I didn't warm to 'Lazarus.' My husband loved it, so I may be in the wrong here."
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Rolling Stone
December 7th, 2015

"'Lazarus,' a beautifully nuanced production, continually emphasizes the surreal over the explicit at nearly every turn...'Lazarus' may bear all the earmarks of a bad idea — a continuation of another story, a single-artist soundtrack, a television serial killer singing — but the plot is coherent, the songs are great and the performances are kinetic. Newton's unflappable loneliness is depressing, but it's also compelling. Maybe all the drinking was worth it after all."
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Consequence of Sound
December 7th, 2015

"While Bowie doesn’t act in the play, he dug into his catalog to rework some of his most famous tracks for key moments in the story and also composed new songs...The exposition was dense. Some subplots felt less than essential to the story...Director Ivo van Hove also further promoted this concept by sleek, layered scenes where Newton observed multiple plotlines occur simultaneously."
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S
December 8th, 2015

"Does 'Lazarus' succeed as theater? Those unfamiliar with Bowie’s music might be left bewildered (those who hate Bowie’s music should just stay clear), and the attempts to provide character backstories and plot are the play at its most fumbling. In truth 'Lazarus' works best as a brilliantly staged collection of motifs and ideas that have obsessed David Bowie, and therefore David Bowie fans, for decades."
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Shock Till You Drop
December 8th, 2015

"It’s pretty obvious from this get-go that 'Lazarus' isn’t your regular ‘musical,’ but more of an experience...And that’s where 'Lazarus' fully succeeds. This is a Bowie show...'Lazarus' is a choice extension in the grand oeuvre for the perpetually enigmatic and highly individual artistry of David Bowie."
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TheaterScene.com
January 4th, 2016

"This two-hour intermission less work is incredibly weird and almost impossible to comprehend...The end result onstage is dramatic, yet stillborn...The entire enterprise is unrepentantly dense and solemn. This makes for a very long dirge of an evening. The saving grace, if there is any glimmer of hope, lands squarely in the musical interludes. Mr. Bowie’s enigmatic and beautiful songs are exquisitely rendered with power and grace."
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