Ends May 21

The View UpStairs

Members say: Entertaining, Relevant, Great singing, Ambitious, Absorbing
78
Critics
75
22 reviews
Members
78
196 reviews
 

Invisible Wall Productions presents a provocative new musical about a vibrant '70s gay bar in New Orleans' French Quarter.

... Read more

This forgotten community comes to life in all its gritty, glam-rock glory when a young fashion designer from 2017 buys the abandoned space, setting off an exhilarating journey of seduction and self-exploration that spans two generations of queer history. Inspired by one of the most significant yet all-but-ignored attacks against the LGBTQ community, 'The View UpStairs' examines what has been gained and lost in the fight for equality, and how the past can help guide us through an uncertain future.

 
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Reviews (218)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
75
Avg Score

70
Theatermania

"Vernon is egalitarian in his songwriting, giving everyone a number (although not all are of equal quality)...As fun and informative as these songs are, we can never quite escape the sense the playwright-composer is desperately trying to get us to learn something from this experience, making the whole enterprise feel like a gay after-school special...Despite its flaws, 'The View UpStairs' is mostly enjoyable and carries with it a timely and important message." Full Review

70
The New York Times

“The show consists of Wes learning valuable lessons about gay and lesbian history, as well as the importance of connecting in real life…The show, directed by Scott Ebersold, becomes bogged down in heavy-handed lecturing toward the end, and favors quips over plot. But Mr. Vernon’s score, which draws from the period’s disco, soft rock and glam sounds, is solid — which is important, since the evening essentially consists of ‘all about me’ songs by the staff and patrons." Full Review

55
Time Out New York

"A lot of disparate characters to pack into a one-act musical, which may be why they're painted and (mostly) played in such broad strokes under Ebersold's unsubtle direction...Clearly a passion project for book writer, composer and lyricist Vernon. He's definitely got talent: His eclectic '70s-style tunes are catchy...It's commendable that Vernon wants to celebrate the gays who came (out) before but...the result feels as derivative as a drag queen doing Cher." Full Review

65
Lighting & Sound America

"Never unpleasant, and often quite amusing, 'The View UpStairs' suffers from confusion about its intentions...Mostly, the hey there, good times atmosphere holds until the end...By this point, the characters have begun indulging in so much inspirational speechmaking that what has been a moderately entertaining evening turns just a wee bit tedious...Nevertheless, Vernon's songs are usually easy to take...The cast, under Scott Ebersold's lively direction, is ready to rock." Full Review

55
Talkin' Broadway

"There's Vernon's well-greased knack with writing this sort of pastiche material from the era's musical forms...The performing company is a trip, too...It just doesn't add up to much other than a sort of vampy, revamped 'A Chorus Line'...For all its flash and filigree, the writing never transcends its basic subject matter to become about something bigger...'The View UpStairs' would have a greater impact if Vernon were more interested in learning from history than in merely repeating it." Full Review

90
Times Square Chronicles

"Vernon’s music is infectious and I dare you to see this show without dancing in your seats...The script, though a fairy tale of sorts, hits home...Director Scott Ebersold keeps this show sparkling and though we cry, we are not called on to be maudlin, but are brought to the point where we cannot forget...The cast is energetic and each individual has moments of shinning bright and making their mark...'The View UpStairs' is an uplifting reminder of our past." Full Review

90
Theater In The Now

"Max Vernon has scripted an exceptional story…The libretto has some holes. But some of these dramaturgical things can easily be patched up…The characters that Vernon has crafted are vibrant, leaping off the page…It’s the personal relationships that are formed that keep this musical afloat…‘The View UpStairs’ is a great work but what sets this musical apart is the magnificent production design…This incarnation of 'The View UpStairs' is not perfect. But it’s absolutely a must see.” Full Review

80
Theatre Reviews Limited

"Max Vernon’s musical is an engaging amalgam of magical realism and surrealism that allows the audience to see two histories counterpoint one another and inform each other 'from a distance'...Each of Mr. Vernon’s characters is well developed and represents both a unique character and a 'stock' character from the 1970s gay scene – a remarkable accomplishment for the musical’s creator and director Scott Ebersold...This is a musical with a matrix of authentic and engaging themes." Full Review

65
Out Magazine

"Vernon relies heavily on clichés in the show, creating a queer 'Cheers'...Despite the stock characters and situations, Vernon’s work with Scott Ebersold’s direction and the cast’s performances do stir emotions...Simply put, 'The View UpStairs' is not a perfect show. Yet, with this piece, Vernon shows potential and promise...In these successful moments, the musical proves itself to be timely and relevant. In the moments when the show falls flat, the audience is at least entertained." Full Review

75
Towleroad

"Ultimately, Vernon’s musical adds up to a series of character portraits. Some are more lovingly detailed than others, just as some numbers are more memorable, but each character has their own distinct place in this time capsule of queer experience, and a story worth telling...Though the production ambles then pivots perhaps a bit too sharply under Scott Ebersold’s direction, one would be hard-pressed not to feel the force of the tragedy." Full Review

85
Theatre is Easy

"As memorable as the cast is, they’re backed up by Max Vernon’s catchy and moving songs. Everyone gets a turn, which is admirable, but certain songs land better than others...Jason Sherwood’s set design, aided by Andrew Diaz's props and set dressing, is outstanding...Just as Wes gets woke by the end, the production’s intent is clearly to have audiences not just walk out humming, but to fight back." Full Review

85
Broadway Blog

"Thoroughly thoughtful and entertaining...Graham is a stunning performer. His work in this piece is a master class in the art of acting...Vernon is mostly wise to utilize the vocal talents of his cast...The score is terrific, but I wish that Vernon had showcased Davis a bit more...'The View UpStairs,' smartly directed by Scott Ebersold, is an important retrospective of the gay community: where we’ve been, where we are, and who we could—and should—be." Full Review

55
BroadwayWorld

"Initially, the conceit...is cute. But the gimmick soon wears thin...The play is not without value. Just don't expect nuance. And at one hour forty-five minutes and no intermission, it's a tough slog. Out of sixteen musical numbers, only a handful are musically compelling...Still, though uneven and often heavy-handed, 'The View UpStairs' has some nice moments. Given the important subject matter, one just wishes it worked better as a piece of art." Full Review

90
The Reviews Hub

"A phenomenal cast carries a powerful and moving experience...There are a few occasions where the out-of-time elements clash with the smoothness of the play as a whole...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." Full Review

75
Entertainment Weekly

"'The View UpStairs' sags at times. A few minor characters’ forgettable songs could easily have been cut, ideally to make room for more of the absolutely scene-stealing, uproarious bits from 'old queen' Willie...Still, the show swells with heart, and its characters and the history they represent should rightly be celebrated and remembered. 'The View UpStairs' is ultimately a moving homage to LGBT culture, past and present." Full Review

85
Edge New York

"'The View UpStairs' is a quintessential star-spangled civil rights kiss-off; it may also be the first great post-Trump musical of the 21st century...The show is revelatory...This production is not perfect...Some jokes also do not land...There are moments where the audience has to wait too long for the build up...Make no mistake however, as a show, 'The View UpStairs' has all of the ingredients for an iconic cult phenomenon." Full Review

90
Theater Pizzazz

“An imaginative, powerful, beautifully performed theater piece…The diverse cast is uniformly strong, in their acting, singing and dancing. The brunt of the performing, however, is borne by dynamic Jeremy Pope as Wes…The show has had an interesting journey so far. Developed in part at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and at New York Stage and Film & Vassar at the Powerhouse Theater, it deserves further travel—to an uptown house." Full Review

90
The Dance Enthusiast

“It is fascinating to witness the clash of different eras and attitudes not only through the always witty and often ingenious lyrics by the show’s creator Max Vernon, but also to have the divide made visible in the choreography by Al Blackstone, who juxtaposes '70s groove and 2017 posing in hilarious ways…While moving the show along at a swift pace, director Scott Ebersold manages to make us truly care about its characters…A most original piece of musical theater that is not to be missed." Full Review

85
Scatter of Opinion

"Vernon’s musical uses the tragedies of the past to highlight the mistakes of the future...Scott Ebersold has directed this production to feel intimate, ensuring each of the characters have their time to shine and connect with the audience...Drama, music and lyrics are combined to create a thrilling experience...'The View UpStairs' is a magical, moving production that provokes important debates and a feeling of camaraderie." Full Review

80
Yes Broadway

"Fun, fresh, and super exciting. This is the kind of music you can't wait to hear again as soon as you walk out of the theater. Aside from such an emotional story told by an extremely good composer, this show is brimming with talent. Enter Nathan Lee Graham, whose vocals are so good you might want to consider bringing something to fan yourself with. The glorious set is also a highlight of this show as you can see in the photos...Go enjoy this very fun night at the theater!" Full Review

90
Public Seminar

"In the midst of its heavy subject matter, the tear-jerking and thought-provoking moments, 'The View UpStairs' is filled with humor...Vernon has succeeded in creating a musical that is authentic, funny, and deeply resonant. No one can leave the theatre untouched. Along with its vibrant and emotional tones, it is a show that sparks discussion about unsung heroes, queer history, and LGBTQ movements...A genius musical that gives us an opportunity to utilize the past in creating our future." Full Review

75
The Out Front

"Vernon expresses social insight well beyond his years...Vernon’s forte is his score which illuminates both the vibrancy and nuance of the spectrum in his character’s lives and emotions. A similar finesse would serve his book well also, raising its sometimes heavy-handed catch phrases and preachy dialogue up to the same level...What could easily veer into stereotypes and 'been there, seen that' is thoughtfully guided under the sensitive direction of Scott Ebersold." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

78
Funny, Relevant, Cliched, Dated, Entertaining

See it if you want a little show that can. When its on target, it explodes with wit and enchantment. Serious at times.Nathan Lee Graham is amazing.

Don't see it if don't like in your face, Literally in your face, shows about the gay life with many cliched characters.

62
Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated, Great lighting, Great set design

See it if you like imaginative set design & lighting effects. Compared to the Public Theater's 'Gently Down the Stream' this is a real disappointment.

Don't see it if you don't have comp tickets.

Also To be fair, the night we saw this there were three understudies substi... Read more Read less

80
Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if A tribute to lives lost in New Orleans Upstairs Lounge fire, Orlando Pulse massacre, and recent Oakland Ghost Ship fire is in your heart.

Don't see it if A portrayal of true to life characters just before lives were lost is too poignant.

95
Funny, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you are interested in a community of LGBT people who are funny, brave, and full of life, despite the horrors they experience with a tragedy.

Don't see it if are uncomfortable with LGBT issues. Yet, as a human being, you can certainly relate to the joys/csorrows the LGBT characters experience.GO!

55
Ambitious, Slow, Great set design, So much potential

See it if you want to see a new off-Broadway musical. This show is worth seeing for the fabulous set design and talented actors.

Don't see it if you don't like shows that try too hard or take the easy way out. This show uses "funny" quips to avoid facing the uncomfortable.

Also Sadly, this show doesn't dig deep enough. It merely skims the surface ... Read more Read less

20
Banal, Excruciating, Cliched, Slow, Plodding

See it if you enjoy musical theatre that is on the amateurish level. The actors work hard, but they are let down by an awful book.

Don't see it if you like a strong book and strong songs to carry the evening. This show does not have either.

85
Funny, Thought-provoking, Must see, Resonant, Deeply touching

See it if fun music, campy comedy, deeply-touching & historical scripts touch your heart. Teared-up 5x w/reminders of long-gone friends & loved-ones.

Don't see it if you want perfection & you don't have a feeling-bone in your body. It's not perfect, the 4th wall's obliterated, but it gives you a huge hug.

92
Absorbing, Must see, Relevant, Riveting, Great singing

See it if You enjoy creative staging, and incredible singing/acting. Also if you like shows examining the LGBT community, and different time periods.

Don't see it if You don't like shows with intense subject material based on true events.

60
Ambitious, Resonant, Cliched, Slow, Trite

See it if you're like me & you enjoy exploring new Off-Broadway musicals, since that's where a lot of risks are taken. This show had a nice message.

Don't see it if you're going to be disappointed by two-dimensional characters, trite thematics & eye-rolling dialogue. This risk doesn't pay off.

Also I enjoyed the staging & the immersive experience. The cast is spirited... Read more Read less

66
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Disappointing

See it if You want to learn about an episode in LGBT history that deserves attention done in an engaging immersive manner

Don't see it if You expect perfection , cast is uneven and not particularly strong vocally . Saw two understudies which may have been the issue

Also They want people to care about the topic and have a great piece in the... Read more Read less

40
Excruciating, Cliched, Awful, Choppy, Corny

See it if 70s era pasticche, gay and lesbian themes

Don't see it if amateurish

65
Sad, Pleasant, Earnest, Well meaning

See it if you care to spend 90 minutes at a "fabulous, tacky" gay bar in 1973 New Orleans.

Don't see it if you have no interest in gay history in the post-Stonewall period.

73
Relevant, Resonant, Disappointing

See it if You are unfamiliar with the history

Don't see it if You cannot stand outright preachy dialogue

79
Time-traveling gay n'awlins "cheers" musical

See it if you want a look at pre-AIDS N'awlins with a ragtag gay CHEERS-mileau group of regulars. You appreciate good singing voices.

Don't see it if you think a nearly 2 hour musical with no intermission will drag (pun intended). You don't like gay-themed theater.

Also Based on a true story of a fire-bombing at a gay club in the French Qu... Read more Read less

47
Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Based on important history

See it if Have an interest in LGBTQ history (and yet are not easily offended by the hyper-stereotypical portrayal of gay men).

Don't see it if You have high expectations for acting, singing, writing, or production quality.

Also This production is tedious -- poorly constructed and badly produced. I... Read more Read less

75
Entertaining, Touching, Good acting, Semi-immersive staging, A little preachy

See it if Have some awareness of '70's gay community & want to learn more. Characters are fairly true-to-life "types", w tender stories, some sad.

Don't see it if You know what it's about & doesn't appeal. It's EXACTLY as it purports to be, w some classic musical tropes/songs. Nothing graphic/no nude.

84
Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Masterful, Great staging

See it if if you loved "Rent" -- this is ensemble magic, with high-energy songs and great humor but also tinged with doom.. a celebration of community

Don't see it if The only reason not to see this is if you hate musical theater! Warning: the accompaniment music is pre-recorded, but excellent quality

Also My comparison to "Rent" is not flippant -- this really delivers all th... Read more Read less

82
Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you are interested in gay history. like musicals. costumes and setting where on point for that time.

Don't see it if you cant deal with gay story line

100
Ambitious, Must see, Relevant, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You need to be in the space of this play, need to feel the emotion. A poignant reflection of tragedy but also a stunning hope of our future.

Don't see it if You aren't willing to shed a few tears and are not willing to invest in the never ending fight for community, love, acceptance & dignity.

88
Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You lived through the plague years or have an interest in musicals with a big heart that take on politics and civil rights. Great staging.

Don't see it if You don't like an "informal" setting. This is not interactive or immersive but very cleverly staged so you are right there in it.

85
Thought-provoking, Quirky, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You enjoy rock musicals that are both enjoyable as well as socially relevant. Great performances by a talented cast. Serious issue but fun

Don't see it if you are offended by open expression by members of the gay community or you prefer heavy drama to fun singing.

85
Absorbing, Delightful, Refreshing, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if endearing characters, several excellent songs, immersive production design, and surprising and still relevant story

Don't see it if don't like to be part of festival, environmental theater, think the characters are clichéd and familiar (but stick it out)

84
Quirky, Entertaining, Great staging, Immersive

See it if a campy, gay, and fun musical with a mildly preachy book. Also, if you like to be "transported"

Don't see it if you need the fourth wall separation to enjoy theater

70
Quirky, Relevant, Cliched, Great singing

See it if you love musicals as long as songs are good. Some of the performers are great.

Don't see it if you need good book in addition to good music. It does get its message across but it's a bit unfocused.

72
Funny, Edgy, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to hear an up and coming composer, or if you are gay! Lot of fun references and characters!

Don't see it if You are highly offended by homosexual references. or if you are offended by drag queens. entertaining off broadway show!