David Bowie wowied by tiny Arrowtown show

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This is Ground Control to Queenstown’s Margaret O’Hanlon – you’ve really made the grade. 

Megastar David Bowie is closely following musical director O’Hanlon’s self-penned new stage show Rock and Roll Suicide –inspired by the rocker’s hit music. 

Bowie’s New York-based personal assistant Eileen D’Arcy has contacted O’Hanlon out of the blue asking for a video of the shoestring rock opera, which opened last night at Arrowtown’s tiny Athenaeum Hall and features a cast of local actors and singers. 

O’Hanlon, a massive Bowie fan, admits his request for a video is partly terrifying. 

“I better have it together. I really can’t think straight,” she says. 

Ziggy Stardust singer Bowie, who has sold more than 130 million albums, became aware of the Arrowtown show after reading a Mountain Scene preview story on the newspaper’s scene.co.nz website last week. 

“I work for David Bowie here in New York,” D’Arcy emailed the newspaper. 

“Mr Bowie asked that I be in touch – he would love to see this show and we were wondering if it was going to be taped or filmed,” D’Arcy says. 

“We’d love to get a copy for him.” 

Overwhelmed O’Hanlon, 49, says she has already emailed Bowie’s assistant to say she’d be more than happy to send a tape. 

“I’m thrilled he’s taking an interest,” O’Hanlon says. 

“I’m thrilled he even cares what anyone in any part of the world is actually doing with his music. 

“It’s extremely flattering and also shows what an open, generous person he is. There’s nothing cagey about it – nothing like ‘You cannot do this, Mr Bowie’s work shall not be used in any way’. 

“It’s really quite lovely,” O’Hanlon says. 

It’s unique for a stage show about Bowie, 63, to get the green light as the singer is fiercely protective of his music.
In 2008 the British idol kyboshed a musical being planned for London’s West End that was based on his 70s cult sci-fi flick The Man Who Fell to Earth

He refused permission for his songs to be used and down the years he is believed to have knocked back several other approaches to make a musical about his life. 

His assistant D’Arcy emailed O’Hanlon to say she believes Bowie’s interest is because “it’s not like the usual tribute show”. 

Back when aged 17, O’Hanlon – herself a native New Yorker – says she went to see Bowie perform on Broadway and waited outside the stage door for an hour afterwards just to glimpse him but was unsuccessful. 

Rock and Roll Suicide is an original script based around the pursuit of fame by young wannabe Jo Rockstar, played by 17-year-old Wakatipu High student Max Gunn. 

Co-stars include O’Han-lon, Pearly McGrath – a Queenstown singer – playing Jo Rockstar’s love interest Suzie Diva, and Shaun Vining as Idol. 

The story, which has no dialogue, is told via Bowie’s songs with an audio-visual aid providing text commentary to fill in gaps for the audience. 

It continues at 8pm at Arrowtown’s Athenaeum Hall both tonight and tomorrow. Tickets are $35.