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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Internationally acclaimed director Ivo van Hove returns to New York Theatre Workshop with 'Lazarus,' by David Bowie and Enda Walsh. 'Lazarus' features songs specially composed for this production by Mr. Bowie as well as new arrangements of previously recorded songs. 'Lazarus,' inspired by the 1963 classic sci-fi novel 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' by Walter Tevis, centers on the character of Thomas Newton, an extraterrestrial who lands on Earth while looking for ways to send water to his drought-plagued planet.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"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." Full Review

New York Post

“'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." Full Review


"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"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." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"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." Full Review

Time Out New York

"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." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"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." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"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." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"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." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"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." Full Review

AM New York

"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." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"'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." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"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." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"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." Full Review

New York Daily News

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

The Wrap

"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." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"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." Full Review

The Associated Press

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review


"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 em... Full Review

Broadway & Me

"'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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Indulgent, Confusing, Great music, Great staging

See it if you love Bowie's music and avant-garde aesthetic.

Don't see it if you dislike experimental theater.

Absorbing, Edgy, Profound, Riveting, Great singing

See it if David Bowie!!!

Don't see it if Expecting Oklahoma!

Confusing, Entertaining, Strange

See it if you like Bowie's music.

Don't see it if you want a coherent story.

Absorbing, Great acting, Confusing, Great singing, Rip david bowie

See it if you're a David Bowie fan, like the film The Man Who Fell to Earth, want to see creative staging with a lot of projections and balloons

Don't see it if you want a very clear storyline, you're not really interested in anything about Lazarus and only want to go because it's a hot ticket

Ambitious, Dizzying, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you like experimental, non-linear and non plot-driven theatre.

Don't see it if you want your musical theatre to be clear and linear and "entertaining."

Pretentious, Unpleasant, Inscrutable

See it if you're a slave to the next big thing

Don't see it if you actually want to know what's going on when you see a show

Dizzying, Edgy, Intense, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if You love David Bowie, and don't care whether or not a musical has a plot.

Don't see it if You require a plot and dislike experimental music theater.

Original, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you love David Bowie. Michael C Hall does not try to sing like Bowie, it is just his voice and that is why he is perfect. Go for the music

Don't see it if You are looking for a show that makes complete sense.

Absorbing, Epic, Great acting, Masterful

See it if If you are a Bowie fan, enjoy fabulous acting , singing, and staging

Don't see it if If you don't care for Bowie's music.

Edgy, Quirky, Resonant, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if Great David Bowie music, imaginative

Don't see it if Confusing, disjointed

Absorbing, Edgy, Great writing, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if You love David Bowie and his music, you love edgy theater that makes you think, you are familiar with The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Don't see it if You do not like David Bowie music. You need theater to give you a linear story with complete information and tap your feet music.

Original, Absorbing, Clever, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if you are a fan of David Bowie's music. Script is confusing. The play looks/sounds great. I was fascinating but wanted more 'something'.

Don't see it if avant garde/modern is not your thing or don't like David Bowie's music. This play/musical is certainly not for everyone. Entertained but '?

Original, Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense

See it if you're a fan of Bowie, great performances (Michael C. Hall is stunning), or shows that take you on a journey through a struggling mind.

Don't see it if You prefer a traditional plot, straightforward characters, and a predictable story arc.

Great acting, Confusing, Great staging

See it if you like david bowie and his music and want to see an excellent performance by michael c hall. very confusing story

Don't see it if you don't like david bowie. a lot of the story made more sense after bowie's death. destined for bdwy due to his passing & greater interest

Edgy, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Riveting

See it if If you like a new kind of story telling and like to think while watching a show. If you're into new sounds through rock music & great actors

Don't see it if If you're easily confused or dislike edgy, unique musicals;

Boring, Pretentious, Slow, Incoherent, One-dimensional acting

See it if you like the music of David Bowie. Also, if you want to see acclaimed director Ivo van Hove stumble.

Don't see it if you like a coherent book with multi-dimensional characters.

Absorbing, Epic, Exquisite, Intense, Quirky

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.

Quirky, Banal, Confusing, Overrated, Slow

See it if obviously if you're a Bowie fan, you like very cerebral, pretentious work

Don't see it if you're not a fan of the Emperor's new clothes

Original, Confusing, Daring

See it if You don't think you need to understand something to be captivated by it. You want to erase Elsa Mars's rendition of two songs from your mind

Don't see it if You think you're going to see Mamma Mia Bowie-style.

Original, Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Confusing

See it if you're a Bowie fan, you like seeing new talent (Sofia Caruso), you're looking for something different.

Don't see it if you can't sit still for 2 hours, you don't like weird, you don't like projections, you're not a Bowie fan.

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Pretentious, Lots of blood

See it if if you like theater that would have been avant-garde in the 1970s.

Don't see it if you appreciate a coherent plot and characters with motivation.

Original, Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you like great acting, music and something entirely different.

Don't see it if you like conventional theatre

Original, Ambitious, Enchanting, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You enjoy new and different work

Don't see it if You need a break in a two hour show without an intermission... or if you don't enjoy Bowie.

Ambitious, Indulgent, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if you want to see some interesting visuals and decent vocal performances and coherence doesn't matter to you.

Don't see it if you like the plays you see to make any goddamn sense whatsoever.

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)

Cast & Creatives (16)