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Main Street Musicals

 

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UpStairs: the Musical (1129F)

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SnapShot

  • TITLE OF WORK: Upstairs: the Musical
  • SELECT ONE: Original
  • MUSICAL STYLE: Jazz/Blues
  • NATURE: Drama
  • INTENDED AUDIENCE: Adult
  • STRUCTURE: Some spoken dialogue: Mostly sung
  • APPROXIMATE DURATION (Hrs/Min): 2 hrs
  • DESIRED INSTRUMENTATION: Composed for Piano (on stage), keyboard, violin, bass, drums.
  • BRIEFLY STATE THE THEME or MESSAGE: Based on the true story of the 1973 Upstairs Lounge Fire that killed 32 lgbt people, it's a story how, in the face of betrayal, to survive is to forgive.
  • NUMBER OF SETS: 2

Cast Description

BUDDY - The bar’s loved and respected bartender and co-owner, Buddy is a good looking, charismatic guy, young, but old enough to have done a tour in the Navy. Everyone at the Up Stairs lounge knows Buddy and he gets a lot of phone numbers left on napkins. Based on bartender Buddy Rasmussen, who saved 35 people from the burning bar. Baritone.

ADAM - Buddy's boyfriend. A scholar and an alcoholic, Adam is an East-coast intellectual who feels out of place in New Orleans and outshone by Buddy. He covers his feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and alienation in caustic wit and in copious gin-and-tonics. Baritone.

AGNEAU - A young gay man from rural Louisiana. Raised by his fiercely religious uncle, Agneau has come to the Up Stairs Lounge to indulge base desires he can't reconcile with his upbringing and beliefs. His awkward attempts to fit in barely hide a seething rage. Tenor.

UNCLE - Agneau's homophobic, misogynist uncle, whose folk theology of sin and punishment has controlled Agneau's imagination for all his life, even after Uncle's own death. His ubiquitous, ghostly presence shows the madness of Agneau's interior world. Counter tenor.

INEZ - A young black mother of two grown men, Inez looks after them with a fierce protectiveness twisted by her own difficult past. Pregnant twice from a wealthy white man she thought she loved, she raised the boys to avoid heartbreak by never committing. Mezzo-soprano.

JEAN - Inez's oldest son, Louis spent his childhood pampered by his father. He learned piano and French at a young age, but was cast suddenly into poverty when his father split from Inez. His mom's grief, pregnancy, and poverty gave him an air of sardonic cheer. Baritone or Tenor.

LOUIS - Inez's youngest son and a former hustler, Louis is a born-again Christian who considers his past life to be well behind him as a result of his monogamous relationship with Mitch and his active membership in the local Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). Baritone or Tenor.

MITCH - Assistant pastor of the New Orleans MCC, and partner to Louis. Mitch is a decent man who was once married to a woman, with whom he had two children. He regrets the degree to which he hurt his wife when he left her, and wants to avoid another such mistake. Countertenor.

MARCY - A popular New Orleans drag performer who, as an old friend to Buddy, has agreed to perform this night at a benefit that Buddy's best customers are organizing for the MCC. Larger than life and proud of it, Marcy demands respect for herself and her friends. Falsettist/Tenor.

REGINALD - Marcy's dresser and assistant, Reginald, is an intellectual and introverted gay man, still coming to terms with his sexuality and his way of presenting himself to the world. He is prone to chatter when he's nervous, yet rarely says what really needs saying. Baritone with an A4 belt.

Synopsis

The Upstairs Lounge, June 24, 1973. Buddy greets the rush while Adam reads at the bar, ignoring the lot that climb the stairs determined to forget their troubles for awhile--a tight-knit bunch, there for a drag benefit organized by Louis and Mitch.

Brassy Marcy Goodman, the benefit’s entertainment, arrives with her meek assistant Reginald, flirting with Buddy before parading backstage to prepare. Standing apart is Agneau, who soon approaches Adam and is rudely rebuffed. Inez takes the opportunity to hustle Agneau for drinks in exchange for a “date” with her sons. Agneau reacts with swallowed anger, while Adam reveals his insecurities about Buddy’s possible infidelity.

Shift scenes to a squalid apartment, one year later. Agneau sits at a table, counting pills into a bottle. Behind him stands Uncle. Buddy arrives, asking what happened between Adam and Agneau on the night of the fire. Uncle, whom Buddy can neither see nor hear, torments Agneau, but the two connect over the shared trauma of the fire.

We shift continually between the Upstairs Lounge,1973 and Agneau’s apartment, 1974. At the bar, Adam and Buddy quarrel; Agneau stalks his prey; Marcy gets laughs; Reginald struggles to find his voice; tensions between Mitch and Louis rise. At Agneau’s apartment, Buddy recounts to Agneau the heroic and tragic ways the victims responded during the fire, then he confesses guilt for not saving Adam. Moved by Buddy’s plight, Agneau confesses that it was he who set the fire, begging Buddy for forgiveness. Buddy has no way to forgive such an unimaginable crime. Instead, he leaves Agneau alone with his tormentor. Agneau uses the pills to commit suicide.

Buddy and Reginald return to the bar, to help Buddy find closure. Reginald finally finds his voice, taking the drag name of Regina Goodman in memory of his friend.

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