Upstairs - A Musical Tragedy

Critics

LemonMeter

83 %

Reviews: 3

Audience

LemonMeter

100 %

Reviews: 4

“A force of nature. Upstairs brings closure to a city that has suffered this open wound for too long, and demonstrates the transformational power of live theater.” – Paul Christopher, Theatermania.com “Self's effort to resurrect the victims' stories amounts to an autopsy on the human soul and explores the motives of the suspected arsonist in the case, lays open the ugliness of sexual oppression and characterizes what those who died in the fire may have envisioned in the waning moments of their lives.” – The Crescent City News “I haven't been so moved by a theatrical performance in years. It's both heartbreaking and heartwarming.” – David Gerrold Hugo Award Winning Author and Playwright “Upstairs – a Musical Tragedy” tells true stories from the Up Stairs Lounge fire, a 1973 gay bar arson that took 32 lives in New Orleans. We see the fire through the eyes of three survivors, Buddy the bartender, nerdy Reginald, and the haunted Agneau, as each relives that tragic night, evoking memories and ghosts in an attempt to cope with unspeakable loss. But, as the night draws to its inevitable conclusion, Buddy and Agneau discover secrets about one another that challenge their capacity for forgiveness and their hope of ever finding peace. Created for the 40th Anniversary of the fire, this was the first theatrical work to address this shamefully unexamined tragedy.

Reviews

Featuring several beautiful songs, the cast is uniformly strong and this is obviously a labor of love for everyone involved. - Upstairs the musical

sweet - Mike and Brian (My Haunt Life) - ...read full review


The plot meanders for 90 minutes under Brian Dale Brown's lackluster direction...Self has created some lovely melodies, well played by Sean Alexander Bart on keyboards, but his lyrics really need work. There are some strong voices in the cast but unfortunately they aren't given good material to work with. The songs sound more like speeches set to underscoring than music and lyrics

sweet-sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


I saw the preview of this show and though I thought that the acting could improve, the music, the lyrics, and the performance during the singing took my heart and twisted it and I had to pull myself together so I would't sob out loud. This show is a wonderful homage to the victims and it is part of our history that everyone should see who cares about human rights!

sweet - Enci Box - ...read full review


An absolutely marvelous production. The amazing performers were all on point.The musical score was well done and thought provoking. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to see Upstairs. I left there feeling like I got hit by an emotional freight train afterwards. This was unlike any other musical or theater performance I have ever seen. The story had me in tears with goosebumps. The venue may small but that cast gave a larger than life performance. Thank you to the producers for telling this often forgotten story about our community's history.

sweet - JodyHarrison


UPSTAIRS, a Musical Tragedy, is the venue that takes it's audience on a journey back to the a past, through the eyes of the present, with hope for our future. Upstairs is a story about Living, Learning, Loving and Letting Go, a universal backdrop that is coupled with a tragic fiery ending. We, the audience are asked into a place of Sanctuary, a safe space where we are joined by a cast who set the scene and deliver their stories. Upstairs presents a microcosm of society and conditions in New Orleans, LA, where every day, “Gay” people, their Allies, and their enemies (internal and external) struggle to co-exist and find Sanctuary in a world of chaos and hate. So we must go Upstairs, to learn and understand how the lives of 32 were so tragically affected by a society, not so unlike that of today, who were Burnt away, then swept away like the trash of yesterday, that is promptly forgotten, today. The audience becomes members of an audience who are in this Upstairs sanctuary. Sometimes we are back stage, sometimes we are on stage and sometimes we go back to just being there, in the presence, Through dialogue and songs, each character is made personally known. We identify with their traits. We associate them to people we know. We, the audience become extended family. Wayne Self, the playwright effectively intertwines the lives of the people who seek out this Upstairs sanctuary through meaningful dialogue and insightful song. There are solos, duets, and ensemble which together blend to create an American Tragic Operetta about 32 people who lived and died, most unknown, at the time of the passing, who now live on, to tell their stories. The plot has innuendo, the Gay art of “Reading”, and a history of Gay life, as it was in most of the United Stated in1973. The play also speaks of Hope, and it's eternal flame that is a part of all of our lives. This Hope is what rises up through the ashes and becomes our beacon to guide us to the future. A Mom and her two sons, the property owner and his loves, the lost, the needy, and the evil all combine to be seen and heard in this place, this space, during this time, lost and forgotten by the masses, trivialized by the media and a society, who today, still have objections about others, who are “Not like Them”and who pride themselves with HATE as a Family or Biblical Value. I lived through this time period and remember Stonewall, the Riots in San Francisco and the desire by most of the population to ignore, repress and misrepresent my history, the history of my people, when they tried to erase my tribe, My Gay Heritage, so I applaud Wayne Self and the entire cast of Upstairs for successfully recreating, documenting and preserving for old, new, and future generations, a forgotten story that needed to be re-told. The Cast is stellar and each used their talents and strengths to draw you in, create an emotional bond with you and help you to understand who and why they are. The triumphantly succeed in helping us see that this should not and/or can not happen again. Through them and Wayne, We all looked Upstairs, and We, Saw the Light. See this play, when you can... A book, maybe, Wayne, for those who can't????

sweet - Marc Eugene Anderson


Second time to see this with a group and we loved it more. The music and lyrics stay with you for days in a way that makes you want it again. Fair warning it is intense as it deals with not only the tragedy, but also the struggles many still face today in the LGBT community. It's a must see.

sweet - crtynes


Upstairs is a masterpiece. The characters draw you in from the start with their humor and eccentricities, and hold you with their pain and honesty. Playwright, composer, and producer, Wayne Self honors the victims of this tragedy, their friends, and their families with this beautiful rendition. The characters are multi-dimensional and the songs are haunting. The cast does a fine job with their interpretation. While, there were a few technical glitches and in some cases a need for more projection, these did not detract from the overall goal. This is a story that begs to be told to a wider audience. Do yourself a favor and see it while you can.

sweet - Amanda Tynes


Featuring several beautiful songs, the cast is uniformly strong and this is obviously a labor of love for everyone involved. - Upstairs the musical

sweet - Mike and Brian (My Haunt Life) - ...read full review


The plot meanders for 90 minutes under Brian Dale Brown's lackluster direction...Self has created some lovely melodies, well played by Sean Alexander Bart on keyboards, but his lyrics really need work. There are some strong voices in the cast but unfortunately they aren't given good material to work with. The songs sound more like speeches set to underscoring than music and lyrics

sweet-sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


I saw the preview of this show and though I thought that the acting could improve, the music, the lyrics, and the performance during the singing took my heart and twisted it and I had to pull myself together so I would't sob out loud. This show is a wonderful homage to the victims and it is part of our history that everyone should see who cares about human rights!

sweet - Enci Box - ...read full review


An absolutely marvelous production. The amazing performers were all on point.The musical score was well done and thought provoking. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to see Upstairs. I left there feeling like I got hit by an emotional freight train afterwards. This was unlike any other musical or theater performance I have ever seen. The story had me in tears with goosebumps. The venue may small but that cast gave a larger than life performance. Thank you to the producers for telling this often forgotten story about our community's history.

sweet - JodyHarrison


UPSTAIRS, a Musical Tragedy, is the venue that takes it's audience on a journey back to the a past, through the eyes of the present, with hope for our future. Upstairs is a story about Living, Learning, Loving and Letting Go, a universal backdrop that is coupled with a tragic fiery ending. We, the audience are asked into a place of Sanctuary, a safe space where we are joined by a cast who set the scene and deliver their stories. Upstairs presents a microcosm of society and conditions in New Orleans, LA, where every day, “Gay” people, their Allies, and their enemies (internal and external) struggle to co-exist and find Sanctuary in a world of chaos and hate. So we must go Upstairs, to learn and understand how the lives of 32 were so tragically affected by a society, not so unlike that of today, who were Burnt away, then swept away like the trash of yesterday, that is promptly forgotten, today. The audience becomes members of an audience who are in this Upstairs sanctuary. Sometimes we are back stage, sometimes we are on stage and sometimes we go back to just being there, in the presence, Through dialogue and songs, each character is made personally known. We identify with their traits. We associate them to people we know. We, the audience become extended family. Wayne Self, the playwright effectively intertwines the lives of the people who seek out this Upstairs sanctuary through meaningful dialogue and insightful song. There are solos, duets, and ensemble which together blend to create an American Tragic Operetta about 32 people who lived and died, most unknown, at the time of the passing, who now live on, to tell their stories. The plot has innuendo, the Gay art of “Reading”, and a history of Gay life, as it was in most of the United Stated in1973. The play also speaks of Hope, and it's eternal flame that is a part of all of our lives. This Hope is what rises up through the ashes and becomes our beacon to guide us to the future. A Mom and her two sons, the property owner and his loves, the lost, the needy, and the evil all combine to be seen and heard in this place, this space, during this time, lost and forgotten by the masses, trivialized by the media and a society, who today, still have objections about others, who are “Not like Them”and who pride themselves with HATE as a Family or Biblical Value. I lived through this time period and remember Stonewall, the Riots in San Francisco and the desire by most of the population to ignore, repress and misrepresent my history, the history of my people, when they tried to erase my tribe, My Gay Heritage, so I applaud Wayne Self and the entire cast of Upstairs for successfully recreating, documenting and preserving for old, new, and future generations, a forgotten story that needed to be re-told. The Cast is stellar and each used their talents and strengths to draw you in, create an emotional bond with you and help you to understand who and why they are. The triumphantly succeed in helping us see that this should not and/or can not happen again. Through them and Wayne, We all looked Upstairs, and We, Saw the Light. See this play, when you can... A book, maybe, Wayne, for those who can't????

sweet - Marc Eugene Anderson


Second time to see this with a group and we loved it more. The music and lyrics stay with you for days in a way that makes you want it again. Fair warning it is intense as it deals with not only the tragedy, but also the struggles many still face today in the LGBT community. It's a must see.

sweet - crtynes


Upstairs is a masterpiece. The characters draw you in from the start with their humor and eccentricities, and hold you with their pain and honesty. Playwright, composer, and producer, Wayne Self honors the victims of this tragedy, their friends, and their families with this beautiful rendition. The characters are multi-dimensional and the songs are haunting. The cast does a fine job with their interpretation. While, there were a few technical glitches and in some cases a need for more projection, these did not detract from the overall goal. This is a story that begs to be told to a wider audience. Do yourself a favor and see it while you can.

sweet - Amanda Tynes