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Max Vernon’s new musical theater piece recounts story of 1973 LGBT tragedy

Max Vernon’s new musical theater piece recounts story of 1973 LGBT tragedy in New Orleans

The Living Room
154 Ludlow St. between Stanton & Rivington Sts.
Monday, June 24, 7:00

On June 24, 1973, during Pride Weekend, popular New Orleans gay bar the UpStairs Lounge was set on fire, leaving thirty-two people dead. Although it was believed to have been arson and many claimed to know who did it, no charges were ever brought against the supposed suspect, a hustler who later killed himself. On the fortieth anniversary of the tragedy, New York-based multidisciplinary artist Max Vernon will tell the little-known story in a staged concert performance of his new musical theater piece, The View UpStairs. Taking place on June 24 at 7:00 at the Living Room, it features Tony nominee Michael McElroy, Nathan Lee Graham, Katie Thompson, Blake Daniel, Doreen Montalvo, and MJ Rodriguez, with narration by Rania Salem Manganaro; the show is directed by Eric Hoff (Hit the Wall), with musical director Rona Siddiqui on piano, Hiroyuki Matsuura on drums, and Mike Rosengarten on guitar. “Oh, ain’t it great how far we’ve come since 1973 / The future is great there you are but you own / If I could take you back with me your mind will be blown / Being fabulous all the time can get a little pricey / The future is great . . . trust me,” Vernon sings in “The Future Is Great!” The production also includes such songs as “Waltz,” “Sex on Legs,” and “When Your Body Breaks.” “It’s shocking to me that most people have never heard of the UpStairs Lounge fire, given its significance,” Vernon (Wired, State Debate) said in a statement. “Even as a queer studies major, the fire was never mentioned in any of my classes. Now, with the recent violence and hate crimes occurring around NYC, it feels more important than ever to tell this story and reclaim this event.”

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