Broadway Rent cast member Frenchie Davis is featured in an industry reading of Max Vernon's musical, The View UpStairs, October 20 and 21 in New York City.
The three performances, featuring songs and narration from the show, will showcase the talents of Davis as Henrietta, Ato Blankson-Wood (The Total Bent, Lysistrata Jones) as Patrick, Xavier Cano as Freddy (Grease, Rent), Julian Fleisher as Buddy, Nathan Lee Graham as Willie, Troy Iwata as Wes, Ben Mayne as Dale, Don Meehan as Cops, Doreen Montalvo as Inez and Timothy Britten Parker as Richard. Scott Ebersold directs.
According to press notes, the show takes place on “the 40th Anniversary of the event from which the musical takes its inspiration: the UpStairs Lounge Fire, a 1973 arson attack at a New Orleans gay bar that killed 32 people and remains the deadliest massacre in U.S. LGBT history.”
Max Vernon wrote book, music and lyrics for The View UpStairs, which will be directed by Scott Ebersold with music direction by James Dobinson, casting by Rebecca Feldman and is produced by Invisible Wall Productions.
“It’s shocking to me that most people have never heard of the UpStairs Lounge Fire, given its significance,” Vernon said in an earlier statement. “Even as a queer studies major, the fire was never mentioned in any of my classes. Now, with the recent violence and hate crimes occurring around NYC, it feels more important than ever to tell this story and reclaim this event.”
The plot follows Wes, an ambitious young designer on the verge of greatness (or abject failure), [who] buys an abandoned space in the French Quarter of New Orleans to launch his fashion empire. His plans are put on hold when he suddenly finds himself transported back to 1973 in all its gritty glam rock glory. Step into the sexy, vibrant, glitter-drenched world of The UpStairs Lounge where the drinks flow, worlds collide and love ignites. Inspired by one of the most significant all-but- forgotten acts of violence against the LGBTQ community, The View UpStairs explores how much queer culture has evolved over the last 40 years, and what has been gained and lost in the march towards equality.
Through its developmental history, selections from The View UpStairs have been performed at New York Stage and Film, Joe’s Pub, Goodspeed Opera House, NYU, NYMF, Two River Theater and Pride Films and Plays and the Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat. A concert version was presented at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in July to raise money for Equality Florida to benefit the victims of Pulse Orlando.
For more information, visit Invisiblewallproductions.com.