Directors' Choice Award Winner
Upstairs - The Musical
by Wayne Self
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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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