(July 20, 2023—Metairie, Louisiana) --Jefferson Performing Arts Society is bringing the musical The View UpStairs based in New Orleans at the 1973 French Quarter Upstairs Lounge, to Jefferson Performing Arts Center for five shows, September 8 through September 17.
Written by composer/lyricist/playwright Max Vernon, directed by Jack Lampert, and conducted by Dennis Assaf with Max DoVale as music director, the artistic team also features costume design by Eddie Lockwood, scenic design by Marshall Harris, and choreography by Monica Ordonez, artistic director of Mélange Dance Company.
The show features a young fashion designer in the present day who buys an abandoned building in the French Quarter. When he finds himself transported to the UpStairs Lounge, a vibrant seventies gay bar, he embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-exploration that spans two generations of queer history. This smash Off Broadway hit features a gritty, glam rock score and a tight-knit ensemble of unforgettable characters.
The View UpStairs asks what has been gained and lost in the fight for equality, and how the past can help guide all of us through an uncertain future. The show celebrates the post-Stonewall pre-AIDS era when gay freedom was embraced mostly behind closed doors, yet true intimacy, community, and relationships thrived.
Locals will remember The UpStairs Lounge as the location of a horrific fire that resulted in the death of 32 gay men, with many others injured. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the fire, which is why Jefferson Performing Arts Society’s Artistic Director Dennis Assaf chose to open the season with it.
“Concord Theatricals contacted me about this musical and reminded me that the UpStairs Lounge fire was a New Orleans story. I was immediately intrigued after reading the score. Each character tells their own life story and their dreams, desires, fears, and frustrations, and most of all, their wish to live a free and happy life. This musical depicts those desires in all its rawness and honesty with genuinely heartfelt rock and roll filled with fine vocal flourishes, harmonies and rhythms. I look forward to conducting the score and working with our fine cast and artistic team who are all members of the local LGBTQ+ community,” said Assaf.
Says director Jack Lampert, “People may wonder: 'A musical based on such a tragedy--how can that be entertainment?' But Max Vernon’s beautiful musical combines passion, comedy and truth as we journey through the eyes of a young man who steps back in time to share the struggle that those before him faced. With the world as it is today, this piece is not only important, but poignant."
Max Vernon is a composer/lyricist/playwright whose musicals include The View UpStairs, KPOP, The Tattooed Lady and Show & Tell. They are a three-time Drama Desk nominee, Out100 Honoree, two-time MacDowell Fellow, Dramatist Guild Fellow, and recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award, Richard Rodgers Award, Jonathan Larson Grant, Pew Arts and Culture Grant, and New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship. They have also written for Audible, Disney, Virgin Group and Tyra Banks. They earned an MFA from NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.
“Vibrant! The View UpStairs is a moving homage to LGBT culture, past and present. The show swells with heart.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Highly theatrical, unexpected and marvelous.” – The New York Times“The View UpStairs delivers a warm snapshot of the post-Stonewall era, when class differences were (and still are) a thorny issue in the LGBTQ community. It also suggests that ‘community’ is both hard to define, yet essential for survival — perhaps the most important history lesson of all”. –Chicago Tribune
“The real legacy of The View UpStairs is twofold. Firstly, it manages to shine a light on the lives and loves of people who were senselessly killed simply for being themselves. It does this with feeling and tact, never pushing too far. Secondly, it questions both periods of its setting, highlighting the hate-ridden environment of the 70s, but also questioning where the community is now.”—ayoungertheatre.com
“Current, engaging and thought provoking…a stunning work that is uplifting and enlightening as it encourages the current generation to keep striving for equality, acceptance and inclusion.” –Broadway World
DONYAE ASANTE, WES
TY ROBBINS, PATRICK
MARSHALL HARRIS, BUDDY
RAYSHAUGHN ARMANT, WILLIE
LAUREN SPARACELLO, HENRI
EDDIE LOCKWOOD, FREDDY
JEANNE G. MARCUS, INEZ/REALTOR
TOM VAUGHN, RICHARD
JUSTICE HUES, DALE
MATTHEW WELCH, COP
APOLLO YONG, ENSEMBLE
JOEL SUNSIN, ENSEMBLE
ANDREW ANTOINE, ENSEMBLE
TI ZAMPINO, ENSEMBLE
CADE GARAFOLA, ENSEMBLE
RUSTY FOX, ENSEMBLE
Director and Asst. Choreographer: Jack Lampert
Conductor: Dennis Assaf
Music Director: Max DoVale
Choreographer: Monica Ordonez
Scenic Designer: Marshall Harris
Costume Designer: Eddie Lockwood
Sound Designer/Operator: Amara Skinner
Props Designer: Olivia Winter
Production Manager: Nikki Lopez
Stage Manager: Carlie Goodlett
The show will be presented onstage at Jefferson Performing Arts Center at 6400 Airline Drive in Metairie, Louisiana, for five performances:
Friday, September 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 10 at 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, September 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 17 at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online at www.jpas.org or by phone at 504-885-2000. Parking is free. Opening Night will feature a special “Disco Party” that is included with the ticket price. For more information, to arrange media interviews, group sales, or to request additional promotional materials, email firstname.lastname@example.org.