"The View Upstairs," A New Musical by Max Vernon - New York City Article
"The View Upstairs," A New Musical by Max Vernon
Lynn Redgrave Theater at Culture Project
45 Bleecker Street, (212) 925-1806
This fast-moving and highly-engaging one act musical turns history into fantasy and then brings it all back to reality in a meaningful way. We time travel, rather literally, from the present day back to a gay bar in New Orleans in 1973, for a visceral illustration as to how much has changed in terms of human rights – and sadly, how much hasn’t. The drama centers on an event that was the worst mass murder of homosexuals in US history – a record that should have been allowed to stand, but was, even more unfortunately, eclipsed by the Pulse Orlando shooting of 2016. The score is exceptional – this is one of those shows where you walk out and the first thing you want to do when you get home is listen to the cast album – but the cast is equally good and the storytelling is vivid and not at all preachy or didactic. As far as star turns go, you’d have to travel a long way before you find a performance to equal that of Nathan Lee Graham, whose “eleventh hour number” turns out to be a spoken monologue delivered with all the flamboyant energy of a Broadway show-stopper. (To delve into 1970s African-American cultural icons, he plays “Willie” like two Flip Wilson characters, Geraldine and Reverend Leroy, of The Church of What’s Happening Now, rolled into one individual.) As a straight man, I found it all very moving and uplifting, even while I was laughing and tapping my feet.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)