The View UpStairs

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The View UpStairs
The View UpStairs musical promo art.png
Promotional art
MusicMax Vernon
LyricsMax Vernon
BookMax Vernon
Premiere28 February 2017: Lynn Redgrave Theater, New York City
Productions2017 Off-Broadway
2018 Sydney
2019 London
Various independent productions (see below)

The View UpStairs is a musical with music, lyrics and book by Max Vernon based on the real-life events of the 1973 arson attack at the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans. This attack, now accepted as a targeted anti-gay attack (despite the court officially listing the fire as coming from as "undetermined origin"), resulted in the deaths of 32 people, the deadliest attack[1] on a gay club in U.S. history before the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. The show is inspired by and pays tributes to many of the patrons that frequented the venue.

The single-act show runs for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes minute and is set entirely within the UpStairs Lounge.[2]


The show's score was composed by Max Vernon in 2013 and was first performed on 24 June of that year in a concert setting with performers such as Michael McElroy and Nathan Lee Graham (who eventually went on to originate the role of Willie) amongst others.[3][4] The show then went into a workshop period in March 2016 under Invisible Wall Productions with Scott Ebersold as director and Matt Aument as musical director. The cast then performed a benefit concert on 11 July 2016 for the victims and survivors of the Orlando nightclub shooting, with all proceeds going to the 'Equality Florida' institution.


  • Wes: A fashion designer in his 20s from the present day. He is fashionable and outspoken and yet also self-conscious and insecure deep down. He sniffs cocaine recreationally, which may explain him suddenly finding himself at the UpStairs Lounge in 1973 where he first experiences both love and tragedy.
  • Patrick: A young hustler who may seem innocent at first, but is a lot more manipulative and tough than he appears. Patrick uses his imagination to create stories that distract from the harsher realities of his life. Wes develops a crush on him.
  • Buddy: A closeted gay in his 50s who is married with children. Buddy is the resident piano player of the lounge. Although he loves the attention paid to him by the LGBT community, he also feels embarrassed and resentful at a part of it.
  • Willie: A middle-aged black man who is one of the more experienced patrons in the lounge. He sometimes acts as a matchmaker for the other guys in the bar.
  • Henri: The strict, sassy bartender at the lounge, Henri is an old school butch who takes no nonsense. Whilst she may come across as a bit harsh, she cares very deeply for the community within the bar and acts as a maternal figure.
  • Freddy: A construction worker by day, and Latino drag queen, Aurora Whorealis, by night. He has a bubbly and over-the-top personality and is popular among all in the bar.
  • Inez: She is Freddy's middle aged, single mother and is often mother to the other men in the lounge too. Born in Puerto Rico, she moved her family to America when Freddy was still young and is an avid supporter of Freddy's drag persona.
  • Richard/Rita Mae: The priest of the Metropolitan Community (LGBT) Church holds sermons in the bar. Although more conservative than other bar patrons, is still level-headed and warm.
  • Dale: The arsonist, (based on Roger Nunez) is a jealous attention seeker and radical in his sexual politics. He's experienced a good deal of hardship at society's hand and is bitter and resentful as a result.
  • Cop: The 1973 past the cop is highly corrupt, violent and homophobic. And whilst still stern in present day, the newer cop has more of a sense of humor, and seems to value justice more so than his 1973 counterpart.
  • Realtor: The untrustworthy, fake real estate agent who sells Wes the burnt site of The UpStairs Lounge.[5][6]


The View UpStairs was first produced Off-Broadway by Invisible Wall Productions, and was also under the direction of Scott Ebersold. It began previews on 15 February 2017 at the Lynn Redgrave Theater in New York and officially premiered on 26 February, before closing on 21 May 2017. It has since received a regional premiere in Richmond, Virginia [7] and Los Angeles.

The show had its international premiere at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney, Australia, under the direction of Shaun Rennie. The show was put on as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and began previews on 8 February 2018 before opening on 11 February. The sold out season of 33 performances concluded on 11 March 2018.[8]

Following the success of prior productions of the musical, several US regional productions were scheduled for the 2018-2019 season including:

  • Circle Theatre's production in Chicago from 22 June to 22 July 2018[9]
  • Out Front Theatre Company's production in Atlanta from 25 October to 19 November 2018[10];
  • The Desert Rose Playhouse production in Palm Springs from 8 to 29 March 2019[11];
  • New Conservatory Theatre Company's production in San Francisco from 10 May to 9 June 2019[12];
  • Good Company Theatre's production in Ogden from 7 to 23 June 2019[13];
  • Uptown Players' production in Dallas from 21 June to 7 July 2019[14]
  • SpeakEasy Stage Company's production in Boston from 31 May to 22 June 2019.[15]
  • Evolution Theatre Inc's production in Columbus from 17 to 27 July 2019.[16]

The show was announced to have its European premier at the Soho Theatre in London. This production will be directed by Jonathan O’Boyle and will run from 18 July to 24 August 2019, with casting to be announced.[17]

Original casts[edit]

Character Off-Broadway[18] Sydney[19] London[20]
Wes Jeremy Pope Henry Brett Tyrone Huntley
Henri Frenchie Davis Markesha McCoy Carly Mercedes Dyer
Freddy Michael Longoria Ryan Gonzalez Gary Lee
Inez Nancy Ticotin Martelle Hammer Victoria Hamilton-Barritt
Richard / Rita Mae Benjamin Howes Thomas Campbell Joseph Prouse
Buddy Randy Redd Anthony Harkin John Partridge
Dale Ben Mayne David Hooley Declan Bennett
Patrick Taylor Frey Stephen Madsen Andy Mientus
Willie Nathan Lee Graham Madison McKoy Cedric Neal
Cops Richard E. Waits Nick Eroll Derek Hagen
Realtor Nancy Ticotin Martelle Hammer Derek Hagen
Swings April Ortiz
Anthony Alfaro

Song list[edit]

The Original Broadway Cast recording was released on 11 August 2017. The soundtrack is as follows:[21]

  1. Some Kind of Paradise
  2. #householdname
  3. Lost or Found?
  4. What I Did Today
  5. Are You Listening, God?
  6. World Outside These Walls
  7. Completely Overdone
  8. The Future is Great!!
  9. Waltz (Endless Night)
  10. Sex on Legs
  11. Better Than Silence
  12. The Most Important Thing
  13. Crazy Notion
  14. Theme Song
  15. The View UpStairs
  16. Bonus Track: And I Wish
  17. Bonus Track: Dead Center
  18. Bonus Track: I Was Meant For More

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Off-Broadway production[22][edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2017 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Set Design of a Musical Jason Sherwood Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design Anita Yavich Nominated
Outstanding Wig and Hair Jason Hayes Nominated
Off Broadway Alliance Awards Best Musical The View UpStairs Nominated
Audelco Award[23] Director/Musical Production Scott Ebersold Nominated
Outstanding Performance in a Musical - Male Nathan Lee Graham Nominated
Outstanding Musical Director James Dobinson Nominated
Musical Production of the Year The View UpStairs Nominated
Lortel Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Nathan Lee Graham Nominated
Outstanding Scenic Design Jason Sherwood Nominated
Henry Hewes Design Awards[24] Scenic Design Jason Sherwood Nominated
Costume Design Anita Yavich Nominated

Sydney production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2018 Sydney Theatre Award[25] Best Production of a Musical The View UpStairs Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Shaun Rennie Nominated
Best Lighting Design of an Independent Production Trent Suidgeest Nominated
Best Stage Design of an Independent Production Isabel Hudson Nominated
BroadwayWorld Awards[26]
Best Musical The View UpStairs Nominated
Best Director/Musical Shaun Rennie Nominated
Best Actor in a Musical Henry Brett Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Ryan Gonzalez Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Stephen Madsen Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Markesha McCoy Nominated
Best Ensemble Performance in a Musical The View UpStairs Nominated
Best Scenic Design Isabel Hudson Nominated
Best Lighting Design Trent Suidgeest Nominated
Best Sound Design Neil Mcclean Nominated
Best Costume Design Anita Yavich Nominated
Glugs Awards The Stuart Wagstaff Memorial Award for Most Outstanding Direction Shaun Rennie Nominated


  1. ^ Kopplin, Zack (June 19, 2016). "The Deadliest Attack on Gays Before Orlando Was Treated Like a Joke". Retrieved January 18, 2018 – via
  2. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (March 7, 2017). "Review: A Gay Nightclub Tragedy, Decades Before Orlando, in 'The View UpStairs'". Retrieved January 18, 2018 – via
  3. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Michael McElroy, Nathan Lee Graham & More to Lead Concert Performance of Max Vernon's New Musical THE VIEW UPSTAIRS, 6/24". Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  4. ^ "THE VIEW UPSTAIRS". Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  5. ^ "Theater review: The View UpStairs discos back to gay New Orleans in the 1970s". Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  6. ^ "The View UpStairs". Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  7. ^ Farrell, Tony (August 12, 2017). "Theater review: 'The View UpStairs'". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  8. ^ Desk, BWW News. "THE VIEW UPSTAIRS to Have Australian Premiere as Part of Mardi Gras Festival". Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  9. ^
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  18. ^ "The View UpStairs Original Off-Broadway Cast - 2017 Off-Broadway". Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  19. ^ "Cast announced for The View Upstairs - Theatrepeople". Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  20. ^ "Casting announced for the European premiere of The View UpStairs at the Soho Theatre". Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  21. ^ "The View UpStairs' Max Vernon Breaks Down The Newly Released Cast Album Track by Track - Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  22. ^ "The View UpStairs - Lortel Archives". Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Eddy, Michael. "The 2017 Henry Hewes Design Awards Honorees - Stage Directions". Stage Directions. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "2018 BroadwayWorld Australia - Sydney Awards". Retrieved November 14, 2018. External link in |website= (help)

External links[edit]