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  The View Upstairs at Pride Arts Center - The Broadway

The View Upstairs

Pride Arts Center - The Broadway
4139 N. Broadway Chicago

When Wes, a young fashion designer from 2017, buys an abandoned building in the French Quarter of New Orleans, he finds himself transported to the UpStairs Lounge, a vibrant seventies gay bar. As this forgotten community comes to life, Wes embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-exploration that spans two generations of queer history. 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.

Presented by Circle Theatre

Thru - Jul 22, 2018

Price: $30

Show Type: Drama

  The View Upstairs Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...But despite some hoarier moments, “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 absolutely essential for survival — perhaps the most important history lesson of all."
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Kerry Reid

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...All this might be the makings of a broad, self-aware comedy at the Annoyance, but they're employed here in earnest to curious results. In a 100-minute show, it's hard to see much beyond the central character and framing device, but there are some touching stories and moments on the periphery, like a mother (Selene Perez) lovingly applying makeup to the face of her drag queen son (Rubén Meléndez Ortiz) to cover his bruises. A brief a cappella prayer showcases the capable ensemble's vocal chops, even if Vernon's blandly pop-rock score by and large does not."
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Dan Jakes

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...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."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

BroadwayWorld - Highly Recommended

"...Webb shines as Wes with a performance grounded in sincerity, wit, and wonder. Whether he's incredibly animated or completely still, Webb's emotions pour out and envelop us at each turn. Standouts in this terrific cast include Frederick Harris as Willie who leaves us wanting more of his dazzling tales and Rubén Meléndez Ortiz as Freddy, the construction worker turned drag queen, who exemplifies the entire group's enviable courage. When united in song, the gifted ensemble fills the space with an impressive and gorgeous sound."
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Patrick Rybarczyk

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...While this 100-minute celebration of life remembers with a vengeance that terrible night, it mercifully rejoices lost love rather than explains, let alone excuses, an unsolved tragedy. Best of all, it sings for the silenced. And it doesn’t pretend that any welcome healing has inevitably occurred, just a slow recovery of two steps forward for every step backwards."
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Lawrence Bommer

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...The entire ensemble is very good, but Anderson, Harris and Jackson are particularly strong. Also, Perez has a nice moment late in the show that may have many hoping that more current parents have the same values and open-minded outlook. Too bad Vernon didn’t give all of his characters some sort of backstory, even it were just a few lines of dialogue. Instead, they just become silent members of the ensemble who have to shuffle around the set and add their voices to the chorus during the musical numbers. These five actors — Ben F. Locke (who is also the dance captain), Jennifer Ledesma, Cari Meixner, Juwon Tyrel Perry and Roy Samra — deserve more."
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Jeffrey Leibham

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Beautifully directed by Derek Van Barham, Max Vernon’s heartfelt homage to the lives senselessly lost on a hot June night in a New Orleans bar resonates with the forgotten importance of the here-and-now. The importance of putting down those cell phones and actually interacting with one another is shown to be more important than taking selfies and photographing life, instead of living it. If we could only return to an era, Vernon seems to lament, when making the most of face-to-face connections and discovering the importance of family and community, each of us might find “Some Kind of Paradise.”"
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Colin Douglas

Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"...The View UpStairs has a supremely talented ensemble, each bringing unique characterization and stunning vocals to the table. Music director Jeff Bouthiette, who also plays piano onstage, shines as a closeted husband and father who must protect his identity and his family."

Lauren Whalen

Chicagoland Musical Theatre - Highly Recommended

"...Each character is given their opportunity to sing their story, though not every song hits with the same intensity. Sadly, some of the songs were difficult to understand due either to sound issues or the actors needing to project and sing more clearly. On the upside, The View Upstairs does a wonderful job balancing the placement of their musical numbers-one intense, the next more subdued, and back again, so the nearly 2-hour show (without intermission) goes by quickly, and the emotional impact of the final minutes definitely makes this show worth seeing."
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Josh Flanders

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...For the second time this season, a musical about the disastrous fire 45 years ago that killed 32 people in New Orleans’ Upstairs lounge is playing in the Broadway Theatre of Pride Arts Center. It may seem an unusual topic for a musical but, as The View Upstairs once again shows, it is a highly emotional story rife with pain, love, foreboding, even humor: a poignant story we should not forget about the human beings lost in the horror of the fire."
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Karen Topham

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...You, like this writer, might feel that the true pop of this show comes in how the direction subverts the traditional musical theatre format. During a traditional love ballad, for example, the audience guffaws as one unlucky ensemble member realizes that he is stuck in the middle of the two partners' choreography, and makes an awkward but hilarious exit. In the middle of another exciting party number, the bartender has a relatable exasperation at the explosion of glitter over her previously fresh floors. If you love musical theatre but get bored with the repetition, or hate musical theatre because of the cliche, The View Upstairs is a welcome step forward, and a damn good time."
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Nate Hall

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