REVIEW: The View UpStairs - Original Cast

Recording CoverThe View UpStairs tells the story of The UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans that was the victim of an arson attack in June of 1973, killing 32 people. The attack was not widely covered in the media, and I must admit that I did not know about it until I first read about this musical. Despite the tragic subject matter, composer, lyricist, and book writer Max Vernon has created a glittering world that makes you wish you were a part of it.

The story is told from the perspective of a young fashion designer in the present named Wes who buys the dilapidated building where The UpStairs Lounge used to be. In the show, Wes travels back in time and meets the many characters that populate the Lounge, requiring some major suspension of disbelief on the audience's part.

The original cast recording starts off strong, with the incredibly catchy and fun "Some Kind of Paradise" a funk/rock mix sung by the Lounge's pianist, Buddy (Randy Redd). It doesn't have much to do with the plot, but it sets the mood of fun and abandonment.

Next up we meet Wes (Jeremy Pope), who would do anything to become a "#householdname" -- including buying a run-down building on a whim. It is a fast-paced number and requires a great deal of stage presence to make work, but it has the potential to be a real showstopper. It is also a number that will become dated very quickly; already the mention of Pinterest over other social media such as Twitter or Snapchat shows the song's age.

We meet the rest of the misfits of the Lounge in "Lost or Found?", but things get really interesting when Wes meets the mysterious and not always truthful Patrick (Taylor Frey), who regales him with tales of his life in "What I Did Today". Throughout the show, the two become involved in a relationship, which goes through many ups and downs.

The characters we meet include a queer priest, a drag queen, lesbians, and hustlers -- all of whom seem to get their moment in the spotlight. The mother/son duo of Inez (Nancy Ticotin) and her drag queen son Freddy (Michael Longoria) is particularly entertaining, and their songs "Completely Overdone" and "Most Important Thing" are standouts on the album.

As the album progresses the quality of the music does decrease slightly, but there are some shining moments, in particular the heartbreaking song "Waltz (Endless Night)" when Patrick admits his tragic past to Wes.

Overall, the album is very good, and the majority of the songs are upbeat in tempo and in nature so it is a good album to listen to when you feel like tapping your toes. Most importantly, the album and show are using music, comedy, and drama to share a very important true story that more people should know about.

You Gotta Listen To: "Some Kind of Paradise" "#householdname" "Completely Overdone" "Waltz (Endless Night)" "Most Important Thing" "The View UpStairs"

You Could Skip: "The Future is Great!!!"


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