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Circle Theatre Announces Cast of Chicago Premiere of THE VIEW UPSTAIRS


Circle Theatre Announces Cast of Chicago Premiere of THE VIEW UPSTAIRS

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).

Photo: Top row L-R: Kevin Webb, Averis I. Anderson, Jeff Bouthiette, Frederick Harris
Second row from top L-R: Caitlin Jackson, Ruben Melendez Ortiz, Robert Quintanilla, Selene Perez
Third row from top L-R: Eric Lindahl, Matt Frye, Jennifer Ledesma, Ben F. Locke
Bottom row L-R: Cari Meixner, Juwon Tyrel Perry, Roy Samra

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