When it comes to LGBT history, there seems to be some important stories and events that haven't quite impacted LGBT Millennials. They’re lost in time. The tragic mass shooting in June at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, allowed the tragic events at the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans in 1973 to resurface and inform the uninformed. Using the idea of the present learning about the past is the jumping off point of Max Vernon's astonishing The View UpStairs. Present and past intermingle in a time travel story where a young gay man is about to tear down the historic club until the souls of the victims teach him an important lesson.
|photo by Kurt Sneddon|
The View UpStairs thrives thanks to the community within. The characters have their escape where they can feel pride. And each individual in this company bursts with pride. As Wes, Jeremy Pope didn’t have the strongest of voices but certainly made up for it in character. Pope’s passion as Wes allowed him to grow, advocating for change. As the token hot and sexy love interest, it’s safe to say that Taylor Frey was perfectly cast. Frey, in a breakout performance, was charming and affable. With a million dollar smile and voice to match, Frey found the beauty within Patrick, the ultimately nameless victim. Frey and Pope had a unique bond. It was a syrupy relationship. As the keeper of the keys, tickling the ivories, Randy Redd’s Buddy was one of the most complex and raw characters in the text. Redd left you wanting more from Buddy. Easing into an uproarious campy performance, Nathan Lee Graham was a chameleon of the stage. He switched from scene stealing diva to fading into the background. It’s a sign of a strong performer knowing when to be on. Graham’s Willie was the social butterfly you wanted to sip cocktails with. Frenchie Davis as bar owner Henri gave her heart and soul, showcasing her powerhouse instrument. Davis had a captivating grip on Henri, allowing the walls to come down to reveal a striking susceptibility. Michael Longoria as Freddy was a riot. As the resident drag queen, Longoria pulled out all the stops. Ben Mayne went beyond making Dale just the weird hustler that roams the bar looking for a lifeline. Mayne made you worry about Dale. He made you care about Dale. He made you wish “Better Than Silence” was placed a bit earlier in the show. But most importantly, Mayne made you sympathize with Dale despite his actions. And that is no easy feat.
|photo by Kurt Sneddon|
Stories will never die and this show will surely live on. Max Vernon is the voice of the future. This incarnation of The View UpStairs is not perfect. But it’s absolutely a must see. It’s a must see because you want to brag that you saw it before it become a monster smash hit.