Photo courtesy of CAMA
Let’s dance, Patchogue: Bowie tribute coming to theatre
Put on your red shoes, Patchogue, and let’s dance. “Rebel Rebel, The Many Lives of David Bowie,” is coming to the Patchogue Theatre on Friday, May 11.
The tribute concert created by stage veterans Paul Horton and Quinn Lemley takes you through three distinctive Bowie eras: Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke and Iconic Bowie, backed by a full band.
The Advance recently spoke with actor Sam Given, one of three performers who portrays the late Starman in the show, and co-producer Quinn Lemley about rock ‘n roll, Bowie’s legacy and the politics of androgyny.
Long Island Advance: Do you remember hearing David Bowie for the first time?
Sam Given: I’m 31—and I was brought up in a more of a Beatles or Billy Joel family. I really discovered [Bowie] through this process two years ago and was really surprised because in my personal life, I really live in this Ziggy Stardust androgynous area. So to see someone pushing the fold so many years ago was inspiring.
What was that journey like, exploring his music?
SG: Now I’m obsessed. He was really such a genius, always shifting forms. And I’ve listened to and loved so many artists inspired by Bowie, like Madonna. So without even knowing, his influence has played a huge role in my life to explore androgyny. He opened the door.
[Producer] Quinn Lemley: I knew a lot of his songs but Paul Horton knows them inside and out. When you get inside his lyrics, he was so poetic, spiritual and political. Just ahead of his time in so many ways. And his songs are so appropriate for today—he’s just timeless.
There was something otherworldly about Bowie.
SG: What blows my mind is how he travelled everywhere and he didn’t frighten people away. They were drawn to him...I think he really spoke to people that way.
QL: It really is the many lives of David Bowie. He was a rebel, an innovator, so many things to so many different people. I feel we’ve really captured that.
In [Rebel Rebel] you portray Ziggy Stardust, one of his most famous characters: an androgynous alien-like rock star bringing messages of hope to young people. Do you feel a connection there?
SG: [David Bowie] loved to disrupt and [Ziggy] is one of his most eccentric characters. There’s a lot of theatricality to that and there are some great surprises in the show that cater to that. [Ziggy] is a physical role, he’s sexy almost like the Emcee from Cabaret. It’s fun to play with that and feel enticing on stage.
What makes the show such a blast?
SG: It’s a celebration and it’s coming from both sides of the stage. My favorite moments are when we bring the audience to their feet, dancing. We’re all reliving the David Bowie experience...we’re all transported in that way.
QL: We never wanted it to be an impersonation. We wanted it to come from within. So we looked at his concerts and took some of our favorite moments. We wanted to bring the essence out and give the performers a lexicon of moves and ways Bowie would have expressed himself.
And it’s not just about his music.
SG: What we’re wearing really pays homage to his different periods. There’s the iconic Bowie, the Thin White Duke and I get to wear all of these different glittery outfits. It’s like a fashion show, it’s a feast for the eyes.
There are three of you portraying Bowie. How does that come together on stage?
SG: Each of us brings something different and unique to the stage and we incorporate our own flair, I guess in the Bowie tradition, since he was so original and authentic.
QL: What’s magical is that all three Bowies bring different elements to life. [Sam] as Ziggy is almost otherworldly—he’s kind of reptilian.
Is there a storyline to follow?
QL: There’s a lot of drama in the way we staged it. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are lots of surprises in the show. Musically, it takes you through his lifetime. So it feels like three different concerts, but you can feel the continuum of one artist within.
It sounds like Bowie fans will feel right at home. What if I’m new to his music?
SG: It’s such a theatrical event. It’s like going to see a musical for the first time: walking in and not having an idea what’s going on. We’ll transport you there. And you’ll most likely be a Bowie fan after leaving.
For tickets and more information, visit http://www.patchoguetheatre.org/.
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