David Bowie’s ‘Lazarus’ On Broadway Proved He Saved His Best Work Until The End

Published on theMusic.com.au, Jan 2016

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21 December

As the world mourns a creative genius, an important piece of history is playing out its final days in New York.

The front of Manhattan’s New York Theatre Workshop in the city’s south doesn’t look like much, but the shows that consume the iconic performance space go above and beyond their Broadway counterparts.

It’s where David Bowie chose to host one of his final masterpieces, Lazarus, starring cult hero Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) as Thomas Jerome Newton.

The tiny theatre holds only around 200 people, and as those lucky enough to score tickets (the entire run sold out within hours) quietly shuffled to their seats with lead Hall lying motionless on the stage, the band set up in the background, visible through thick glass, preparing to play some Bowie hits and other reworked classics.

Based on 1967 British sci-fi The Man Who Fell To Earth — in which Bowie plays the character of Newton — Lazarus follows an immortal man not of this world, struggling with alcoholism and depression as he outlives everyone he knows.

With an incredible voice, 16-year-old Sophia Anne Caruso dominated as Newton’s conscience, and a convincing Cristin Milioti, who you might know as the mother from How I Met Your Mother, played his stalker/love interest.

Hall spent almost every minute on stage, with various other characters and scenes surrounding him, toeing the line between humour, rage and heartache beautifully, and becoming a spitting image of Bowie when it came time to sing the hits. Funnily enough, it ended with Hall stabbing someone to death.

The two-hour performance grappled at what makes us human, with its heartbreaking take on love, loss, obsession and death.

It has something for everyone, as those not convinced by its structure or format will either be won over by the Bowie songs performed throughout — including new single Lazarus — or seeing Michael C. Hall in the flesh, who is fast becoming a veteran of theatre, having already dominated Hedwig And The Angry Inch and The Realistic Joneses in recent years.

The stage door sits alongside the venue’s entrance and within minutes of changing out of his milk-drenched stage clothes (things get weird in the thick of Lazarus), an affable Hall mingles with a handful of punters in an intimate setting. This won’t be his last theatre stint, and for David Bowie, it did more than prove he was producing his best work until the end.

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2016/01/12/david-bowies-lazarus-on-broadway-proved-he-saved-his-best-work-until-the-end/

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Here’s Why You Should Be Excited For ‘Book Of Mormon’ In Australia Next Year

Published on theMusic.com.au, Jan 2016

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book of mormon

eugene o’neill theatre, new york

It was only a matter of time until South Park masterminds Matt Stone and Trey Parker found their creativity leaking onto the stage.

It became quite apparent in their 1993 feature film Cannibal! The Musical that they had a strong passion for musicals, and their work following honed that skillset until a stage show could wait no more. Having dabbled in Mormonism before with Orgazmo (1997), the foundations for Book Of Mormon had been set.

It’s easy to laugh at the idea of the team behind a talking Christmas poo infiltrating the inner sanctum of Broadway, but it’s the genius undertones that South Park and films like Team America utilise that makes the prospect of a musical from the pair promising.

The curtains open, and pre-recorded narration from the aforementioned legends begins proceedings – one of few times they’ve insert themselves into the show.

Book Of Mormon tells the tale of said holy book through the plight of a mismatched missionary team (Elder Price and Elder Cunningham) who get sent to war-torn Uganda to spread the word of Jesus Christ.

The show strikes a healthy balance between dialogue and song and builds its humour on thought-provoking grounds, while stage size restrictions have been dealt with nicely, rendering sets that are engaging, impressive and immersive.

The production’s tunes are catchy enough to be rattling around in your head for months (more than worthy of the Tony and Grammy awards received for its soundtrack) and even though they’re all pretty much tongue-in-check, feel uplifting like Broadway numbers should.

Its tasteful and witty jabs at organised religion don’t overpower the show, idling nicely in the background as the focus shifts more to the storyline and songs, eventually acknowledging the purpose and use religion can play, even if it does include a full-force, harmony-driven number that culminates when a religious leader fornicates with a frog. Plush toys of said amphibian were a nice addition to the merch stand.

Intelligent, hilarious and engaging, Book Of Mormon is a dream come true for theatre and musical lovers and also offers something for those who aren’t particularly keen on the format.

Book Of Mormon opens at Princess Theatre, Melbourne on 18 January, 2017, with general public ticket sales beginning next month on 8 February via their website.

http://themusic.com.au/opinion/arts/2016/01/20/heres-why-you-should-be-excited-for-book-of-mormon-in-australia-next-year/

Bruce Willis Shows Off His (Lack Of) Acting Skills In New Broadway Play

Published on theMusic.com.au, Jan 2016

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broadhurst theatre, new york

If Bruce Willis was looking for a way to showcase his severe lack of acting skills, he’s found it on Broadway.

It’s been a quarter of a century since James Caan and Kathy Bates took Stephen King’s epic 1987 thriller Misery to the big screen, and its revival comes in the form of a Broadway production, featuring none other than Hollywood action star Willis and US favourite Laurie Metcalf.

A stunning piece of literature reworked for Broadway and two big-name Hollywood actors leading the charge – what could go wrong?

The curtains lift to reveal a dark room where acclaimed writer Paul Sheldon (Willis), who penned the Misery book series, is lying in bed, with a shadowed figure pottering around him for several minutes. It’s his biggest fan, Annie Wilkes (Metcalf), and she’s “rescued” him from a near-fatal crash.

The lights fade in as the sun rises and we get our first real look of Willis, all mangled in bed, with no producer, director or editor to iron out the creases of what would follow.

The 60-year-old’s wearing an in-ear monitor, which rumour has it is to feed him his lines. There’s really no other purpose for it as neither actor has a microphone. Despite this, he fumbles his lines from time to time and gives an unconvincing performance, the production’s only saving grace being a captivating Metcalf, whose take on the demented stalker leaves chills down your spine, as she becomes infinitely more psychotic in dealing with her hostage.

King’s solid story and Metcalf’s amazing performance, accompanied by a brilliant set design from David Korins, keep the ship afloat as an actor quickly washing up desperately grasps for one more ego stroke. Yippee-ki-nay.

http://themusic.com.au/opinion/arts/2016/01/20/bruce-willis-shows-off-his-(lack-of)-acting-skills-in-new-broadway-play/