Ivo van Hove confirmed to BBC News that Bowie would not be appearing in the show, which is based on The Man Who Fell to Earth. He said preparations for Lazarus were already “far advanced” and described the new Bowie material as “really great stuff”.
“Some of the songs sound as if you have heard them for ever – like classics,” van Hove said. “I started with Young Americans as a young man and went onto Station to Station, Low, Lodger, and “Heroes”, but I really loved his last album The Next Day – it’s a mixture of all these things.
“There are romantic songs – because his songs are deeply romantic – and there are songs about violence and the ugly world surrounding us. That’s what these new songs are about.”
The show is inspired by Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel, The Man Who Fell to Earth which was adapted for the big screen in 1976 with Bowie in the lead role. Lazarus will also feature re-arrangements of Bowie’s old songs.
“He told me he is going to give his songs a new skin,” van Hove added. “He will not be on stage – I don’t think that is the thing he likes most in his life. But as far as I can judge, it is a very important project in his life.”
The show is set to premiere at the New York Theatre Workshop in December.
Update: Michael C. Hall of Dexter and Six Feet Under fame will star in Lazarus; Hall is a Broadway veteran who has starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Cabaret and Chicago. Performances begin on November 18 with opening night scheduled for December 7.