David Bowie becomes the latest rocker to try his hand at a stage musical with “Lazarus,” a new adaptation of novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” which he’ll co-create with playwright Enda Walsh and director Ivo van Hove.
The show, part of the 2015-16 season at Off Broadway’s New York Theater Workshop, will include new songs written by Bowie specifically for this production, as well as previously recorded songs in new arrangements. “Lazarus” marks Bowie’s second visit to Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel, following Nicholas Roeg’s 1976 movie adaptation, in which Bowie starred.
In recent years popular musicians and songwriters including Cyndi Lauper (“Kinky Boots”), Billie Joe Armstrong (“American Idiot”) and Sting (“The Last Ship”) have given stage shows a shot in increasing numbers, with varying degrees of success. Lauper’s “Kinky Boots,” for instance, became a Tony-winning hit, while Sting’s “Last Ship” quickly sank.
Bowie won’t appear in “Lazarus,” although he’s taken a turn onstage in the past. In 1980 he played the title role in a Broadway staging of “The Elephant Man,” appearing in the part that Bradley Cooper played in a revival of “The Elephant Man” earlier this season.
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“Lazarus” reunites NYTW with Walsh, whose previous musical outing at the theater, “Once,” went on to a successful Broadway run. Van Hove, meanwhile, frequently works at the Workshop, and his growing international reputation has been fueled lately by a well-received adaptation of “Scenes From a Marriage” at NYTW and, in London, by stagings of “A View From the Bridge” and “Antigone.”
“Lazarus” is part of a NYTW season that also includes “Fondly, Collette Richard” from the troupe Elevator Repair Service (“Gatz”). Written by Sibyl Kempson and directed by ERS artistic director John Collins, the new play follows a married couple who get sucked into a phantasmagorical world.
Dates and casting for “Lazarus” and “Fondly, Collette Richard” remain to be set.