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David Bowie Grounds Major Tom Musical


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It was revealed this weekend that David Bowie's music would get the 'Mamma Mia!' treatment for a new musical set to premiere next year in London. "Jukebox musicals" -- shows featuring an artists' music to tell an original story, like 'Jersey Boys' or 'American Idiot' -- are the current theater craze like music biopics is a Hollywood obsession, and 'Heroes: The Musical' was to feature roughly 20 of Bowie's best songs to tell the fictional story of Bowie famed protagonist Major Tom.

Since Bowie has technically retired from performing, the musical would be the only opportunity to hear his music live and on stage. "We could not really believe it when they gave us permission," Deep Singh, the writer of the musical, told The Observer. "His people had warned us that it was very unlikely that he would be interested and that he had been asked many times before." Not so fast, Deep, there's a reason why you shouldn't believe that Bowie gave you permission: It's because he hasn't.

In response to the Major Tom musical story, the official BowieNet website quickly issued a statement that read, "Neither the David Bowie Organization, nor its co-publishers EMI Music and Chrysalis, has issued a license for this performance at the O2. There are no negotiations pending for a long running musical featuring the music of Mr. Bowie." That statement was made after Singh told the Observer, "Mr. Bowie's representatives have been incredibly supportive when we have asked them for things and yet hands-off in terms of letting us get on with the project."

The musical itself sounds more like 'Blade Runner' than the much-in-demand Bowie autobiography: Heroes revolves around the Major Tom character in Bowie's "Space Oddity" as he navigates his way through the futuristic, dystopian world that the Thin White Duke created in his early albums. Along with the "Starman" and a "Young Dude Named David," Major Tom battles the Diamond Dogs and the "ruthless Smart Simon" for control of this Orwellian land. (Incidentally, Bowie himself attempted to write a musical based on George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' in 1973; those songs, including a track called "1984," wound up on 'Diamond Dogs'.)

While Singh may or may not have Bowie's blessing, as the statement suggests, there's still some work to be done in order to receive permission from the co-publishers of Bowie's music. As of now, 'Heroes' is only scheduled to have a brief run at London's IndigO2 venue next March, with all profits from those debut performances going to charity. However, it's the "long running musical" aspect that Bowie seems opposed to. Singh told the Observer that he hoped that, if the musical was well received, Bowie would allow for the show to set up permanent residency somewhere in London, but that now seems unlikely.

But who needs a Bowie musical when these already exist?

(Flight of the Conchords are also working on their own movie, maybe.)

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