Chicago – Complete cast and crew were announced today for Circle’s Chicago premiere production of THE VIEW UPSTAIRS, a musical by Max Vernon, whose musical KPOP last week won Best Musical honors in off-Broadway’s Lortel Awards and is also nominated for seven Drama Desk awards. THE VIEW UPSTAIRS, which opened off-Broadway in February 2017, is inspired by real life events of the 1973 arson attack at the UpStairs Lounge, a vibrant gay bar in New Orleans. Now accepted as a targeted anti-gay attack, the arson resulted in the deaths of 32 people and was, until the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, the deadliest assault on a gay club in U.S. history. The show is inspired by and pays tributes to many of the patrons that frequented the venue.
In THE VIEW UPSTAIRS, Wes, a young fashion designer from 2017, buys an abandoned building in the French Quarter of New Orleans and finds himself transported to the UpStairs Lounge in 1973. 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.
Director Derek Van Barham (Pride Films and Plays’ PERFECT ARRANGEMENT, PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT; BoHo’s THREE DAYS OF RAIN) announced his cast today. Leading the cast as Wes is Kevin Webb, coming directly from his highly praised work as Beadle Bamford in Theo Ubique’s SWEENEY TODD. Averis I. Anderson, a 2017 Jeff award nominee for his performance Theo Ubique’s AN ANTHONY NEWLEY-LESLIE BRICUSSE SONGBOOK, who appeared in last fall’s MARIE CHRISTINE for BoHo Theatre, will play the young hustler Patrick. Jeff Bouthiette (head of The Second City Training Center Music Program who recently appeared in BILLY ELLIOT for Porchlight Music Theatre) will play Buddy, a closeted gay man who is the resident piano player of the lounge. Bouthiette will also be the production’s Music Director. Frederick Harris (of Griffin’s RAGTIME and Kokandy’s THE WIZ) is Willie, an experienced patron of the bar who plays matchmaker for many of the patrons.
Caitlin Jackson (BETTE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS and Refuge Theatre Project’s HIGH FIDELITY) will play Henrietta, the sassy but maternal bartender. Rubén Meléndez Ortiz is Freddy, a production worker by day and drag queen by night. Selene Perez has been cast as Freddy’s mother, Inez; and the realtor who sells Wes the building. Robert Quintanilla (El Gallo in Quest’s THE FANTASTICKS) is Richard, the Metropolitan Community Church pastor who gives sermons in the bar. Eric Lindahl (of PERFECT ARRANGEMENT) will play the arsonist Dale. Matt Frye (NOW.HERE. THIS. for Brown Paper Box) will play the dual roles of a cop in 1973 and a cop in 2017. The ensemble will include Jennifer Ledesma, Ben F. Locke, Cari Meixner, Juwon Tyrel Perry, and Roy Samra.
Circle’s production team will include Jon Martinez (choreography), Jeff Bouthiette (music direction), Jimmy Jagos (scenic design), G. Max Maxin IV (lighting design), Chris Tuttle (costume design), J.C. Widman (Stage Manager), Denise Yvette Serna (Assistant Director), Tyler Miles (Assistant Music Director), Nicholas Reinhart (Artistic Director, Co-Producer), Bobby Arnold (Co-Producer).
TIMEOUT NEW YORK said, “It takes your breath away!” and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY called it “a moving homage to LGBT culture, past and present.” THE NEW YORKER praised it for its “beautiful love songs.” THE VIEW UPSTAIRS begins previews on June 22 through June 25, and officially opens for press Wednesday, June 27, running through Sunday, July 22. Shows will be Thursdays – Saturdays at 8:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30pm, with industry performances every Monday at 8:00pm at The Broadway at Pride Arts Center (4139 N. Broadway).
THE VIEW UPSTAIRS
Book, Music and Lyrics by Max Vernon
Directed by Derek Van Barham
June 22 – July 22, 2018
Previews Friday, June 22, Saturday, June 23 and Monday, June 25 at 8 pm ($20 for preview seats)
Press Opening Wednesday, June 27 at 8 pm
Regular schedule Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 pm
The Broadway, Pride Arts Center
4139 N. Broadway, Chicago
Tickets: $30.00. Monday Industry nights $20. Tickets on sale now at www.circletheatrechicago.org
ABOUT MAX VERNON (author, lyricist and composer)
Max Vernon is a composer/lyricist, playwright, and performer. Described by the New Yorker as “equal parts bohemia and Broadway,” Max’s work has been performed and developed at Ars Nova, Actors Theatre of Louisville (Wondrous Strange, Humana Festival 2016), Berkeley Rep, Dixon Place, Disney Creative Entertainment, Goodspeed Opera House, Keen Company, LaMaMa, Naked Angels, New Dramatists, Ma-Yi, Pride Films and Plays (Chicago), Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Theatreworks USA, and Two River Theater (NJ), among others. His musical KPOP, for which he collaborated on music and lyrics with Helen Park, was recently named Best Musical in the Lortel Awards for off-Broadway productions and has been nominated for Best Musical of the 2017-18 season in New York’s Drama Desk Awards.
ABOUT DEREK VAN BARHAM (director)
Derek Van Barham is the Associate Artistic Director of Pride Films & Plays, a member of the Red Tape Theatre ensemble, and a former Artistic Director of The Ruckus. For PFP, he has directed PERFECT ARRANGEMENT, ANGRY FAGS (Steppenwolf Garage Repertory), SONGS FROM AN UNMADE BED (Jeff nomination), and PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT: THE MUSICAL (co-directed with David Zak). He also wrote, directed and choreographed BITE: A PUCKING QUEER CABARET and KILL YOUR BOYFRIENDS. Other directing credits include THREE DAYS OF RAIN (BoHo), MIRACLE! by Dan Savage and SKOOBY DON’T (Hell in a Handbag), TRASH and HOT PINK (New American Folk Theatre), and FROM THESE FATAL LOINS (The Ruckus). Choreography credits include THE CIVILITY OF ALBERT CASHIER (Permoveo/PFP), NEVERMORE and SHOCKHEADED PETER (Black Button Eyes). He was named one of Windy City Times 30 UNDER 30, recognizing individuals from Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community. MFA: Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
ABOUT CIRCLE THEATRE
For more than 30 years, Circle Theatre Chicago has engaged the artistic vision of interdisciplinary artists to craft unique, challenging storytelling experiences spanning all creative mediums. The proud recipient of more than 40 Jeff Awards, it has presented countless world, regional, and Chicago premieres including works by Rebecca Gilman, Charles Mee, Jon Steinhagen, and Harry Connick, Jr. In recent seasons, Circle Theatre has put its stamp on contemporary work in intimate and lauded productions of such works as TRIASSIC PARQ, 35MM: A MUSICAL EXHIBITION, FIRST LADY SUITE, and VENUS IN FUR. Having appeared on every major paper’s top ten lists numerous times, Circle is the recipient of the 2010 Jeff Award for special recognition of its 25th Anniversary.