Book, Music & Lyrics: Max Vernon
Director: Scott Ebersold
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Entering the Lynn Redgrave theatre, one is instantly transported to a divey gay bar in 1973 New Orleans. Bedecked in damask and mismatched seating, dildo chandeliers, a defunct cigarette machine, and nude Burt Reynolds, Jason Sherwood’s set is vibrant and welcoming, immediately bringing a sense of inclusion and peace to the audience. A lovely canvas for the action of The View UpStairs, which proves as vibrant in performance as it does in visuals.
A phenomenal cast featuring Frenchie Davis (Henri), Nathan Lee Graham (Willie), Taylor Frey (Freddie), and Jeremy Pope (Wes), carries a powerful and moving experience. Coupling the inherent nature of musical theatre with the exuberance of a safe space gay bar, the joy and energy of the piece is palpable. Davis and Graham in particular bring the audience to raucous applause with their featured moments.
There are a few occasions where the out-of-time elements of the play clash with the smoothness of the play as a whole. With Wes being from present day, the characters from the 1970s are a bit too quick to understand the concept of iPhones, social media, et cetera. An unquestioned contemporary hundred dollar bill and a not-quite-old-enough boom box are anachronisms that momentarily detract from a compelling and engaging story. A tightening of these details would help drive the authenticity of the play even further.
Minor specificity issues aside, The View UpStairs is a poignant, exuberant, touching musical that explores a dark day in LGBTQIA history. This play is a special experience, and shows promise for a bright and successful future.
Runs until 21 May 2017