Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-09-12
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER REVIEW The View UpStairs
by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times
2018-07-04

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Max Vernon ( book, music & lyrics )

At: Circle Theatre at Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway. Tickets: CircleTheatreChicago.org; $30. Runs through: July 22

The smart, dense lyrics are this show's best element. They convey much more information about the characters and tell more of the story than most show lyrics. You'll be rewarded if you pay attention to them.

The music isn't compelling, but it's pleasant pop/rock that gets the job done with several solid ballads, an anthem and numbers that knowingly channel early-1970s disco classics per the 1973 New Orleans setting.

The weakest element is the book, which is too generic. We are in the Upstairs Lounge, a French Quarter gay bar torched in 1973 with a loss of 32 lives ( some never identified ). But this musical isn't about the fire or its aftermath; it's about the regulars in the bar that night.

What you get is akin to a World War II movie platoon: one of everything. There's a leatherman, a hippie twink, a Puerto Rican drag artist and his mother, a hustler, a loner, a married piano player on the DL, a Lesbian bar owner, etc. Some tell their stories ( mostly in song ), others do not, and most bemoan the still-benighted early 1970s when being identified as gay could cost you career, friends, marriage and maybe your life. The cops were hostile, yet also "on the take."

The problem is none of this is unique to New Orleans. These characters and the social context easily could be Chicago ( even though Illinois decriminalized homosexuality in 1962 ) or any American city of that era. Author Max Vernon doesn't make The View Upstairs and its characters specific to New Orleans or the colorful French Quarter with its long, storied history as a gay mecca.

Vernon wisely engineers a love story between a fashionista from today who time travels back to that fatal night at the Upstairs, and a handsome hustler. Improbable as it is, the relationship between Wes ( Kevin Webb ) and Patrick ( Averis L. Anderson ) provides focus and an emotional hook for the audience. Coming from 2018, Wes also assures us that "It Gets Better."

Book, music and lyrics aside, this production sparkles with energy and high-caliber talent. Webb's powerful high baritone and Anderson's sweet tenor lead a fine ensemble under director Derek Van Barham and music director Jeff Bouthiette ( who also acts/sings as piano player Buddy ). Jon Martinez provides strong choreography, working around an on-stage piano nearly dead-center ( not the best design idea ) and providing wonderful, small moves for many of the songs. The fine six-piece band is conducted by Justin Harner, and never overpowers in the intimate theater.

The Upstairs Lounge fire was a horrific LGBTQ event in which New Orleans' first responders and political and religious leadership totally failed their citizenry, perhaps from bigotry ... but that's not this show's story.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Trans singer, Viola Davis, Jim Parsons, 'Wicked' 2018-09-18 - Filipino pop star Jake Zyrus—formerly known as Charice when he was on the TV show Glee—has released "Diamond," marking his first English-language crossover ...


Gay News

Broadway in Chicago season tickets open soon, include off-season specials 2018-09-18 - CHICAGO ( Sept. 17, 2018 ) — Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce its next season will go on sale to the ...


Gay News

FALL THEATER Theater festivals and special events 2018-09-17 - In addition to the many individual shows, there are several festivals and special events that will enrich the autumn theater season. Here's a ...


Gay News

The Baton Show Lounge's Ginger Grant remembered 2018-09-17 - Entertainer Harry Hodges, a.k.a. Ginger Grant, passed away the week of Sept. 10 in Chicago. Hodges, performing under Grant's persona, was a longtime ...


Gay News

Comic Gina Yashere in Chicago Sept. 15 2018-09-12 - Gina Yashere will perform her comedy Saturday, Sept. 15, at 9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. Originally from the United ...


Gay News

Radio Golf 2018-09-12 - Playwright: August Wilson At: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. Tickets: 773-753-4472; Courttheatre.org; $50-$74. Runs through: Sept. 30 I've always viewed ...


Gay News

Homos, or Everybody in America 2018-09-12 - Playwright: Jordan Seavey At: Pride Films and Plays at the Pride Arts Broadway, 4137 N. Broadway. Tickets: $25-$30; PrideFilmsAndPlays.com; 773-857-0222. Runs through: Sept. ...


Gay News

Nick and Zoe 2018-09-12 - Author: Daniel Talbott At: McKaw Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave. Tickets: thesideproject.net, $15-20 . Runs through: Sept. 29 Radical truth is ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2018-09-12 - Haymarket, Underscore Theatre @ Theater Wit, closes Sept. 16!. Sounds folkloric, but it's a sophisticated score that offers a wives' view of Chicago's ...


Gay News

Six Degrees of Separation 2018-09-12 - Playwright: John Guare At: Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Tickets: 773-728-7529; Redtwist.org; $35-$40. Runs through: Oct. 7 Before it ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.