Tag Archives: Joseph Prouse

The View Upstairs

Soho Theatre

The View Upstairs

The View Upstairs

Soho Theatre

Reviewed – 25th July 2019



“It does all become a touch stereo-typed, and the crying scenes lead too predictably into the love scenes”


This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York; widely considered to be the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights. We have come a long way as a society since then, but Max Vernon argues in the musical “The View Upstairs” that we still have a long way to go. He spearheads his argument by sending the central character Wes (Tyrone Huntley) back in time to 1973, overlapping past and present. We are reminded of the television series, ‘Life on Mars’ as Vernon’s script makes frequent use of jokes and dramatic irony about a future that the audience already knows, but which the characters of 1973 do not.

Sometimes the device works too well, and we are left with an overpowering sense of nostalgia for the past that conflicts with the intended message of the piece. Wes, a present-day fashion designer, is buying a burnt out building in New Orleans and, for reasons that are not remotely touched upon, he is transported back in time and he finds himself in the Upstairs Lounge; a real-life gay bar that was the target of a homophobic arson attack that took the lives of thirty-two people – the deadliest attack in the U.S. until the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, but one which was ignored by the wider American media and public.

The musical is a celebration of the regulars of the bar – a disparate band of odd folk sharing drinks and wisecracks in a kind of queer ‘Cheers’. Lee Newby’s lavishly ramshackle set evokes perfectly the time and territory we are in. As does Vernon’s score which is snappy and uplifting and, although not exactly memorable, stirs memories within ourselves. Presiding over the bar is John Partridge’s ‘Buddy’, the resident pianist who becomes ‘straight’ whenever he goes home to his wife and kids. Partridge cleverly conveys the mixture of resentment, embarrassment and liberation of the closet gay of that time. Other stand-outs are Garry Lee’s Freddy; burly builder by day and drag queen by night, and his biggest fan – his mother (a very watchable Victoria Hamilton-Barritt). Love interest Patrick, played by Andy Mientus, gives Huntley’s Wes a run for his money, while Declan Bennett’s bitter Dale injects a much-needed dose of menace. It does all become a touch stereo-typed, and the crying scenes lead too predictably into the love scenes. But we are eventually shaken out of any sense of complacency towards the final scenes, especially if you don’t know all the historical facts beforehand.

But what carries the show are the performances. A lot of numbers are packed into this one act musical but the energy and vocal agility of all the cast provide the spark that sets this piece ablaze, despite the dampening effects of some over-familiar moralising.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Darren Bell


The View Upstairs

Soho Theatre until 24th August


Previously reviewed at this venue:
No Show | ★★★★ | January 2019
Garrett Millerick: Sunflower | ★★★★ | February 2019
Soft Animals | ★★★★ | February 2019
Angry Alan | ★★★★ | March 2019
Mouthpiece | ★★★ | April 2019
Tumulus | ★★★★ | April 2019
William Andrews: Willy | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Does My Bomb Look Big In This? | ★★★★ | May 2019
Hotter | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Citysong | ★★★★ | June 2019


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Beautiful the Carole King Musical Announces Closing Date

The West End production of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, based on the early life and career of legendary singer songwriter Carole King, will complete its run at the Aldwych Theatre on 5 August 2017.

The UK tour of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical will open in Bradford on 9 September 2017 and continues in Plymouth, Southampton, Norwich, Southend, Nottingham, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham, Newcastle, Hull, Edinburgh, Manchester, Dublin, Aberdeen, Sheffield, Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Woking, Sunderland, Bristol, Leeds, Stoke on Trent, Liverpool and Oxford, with all venues currently on sale.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical received its Broadway premiere in January 2014 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre where it continues to play to packed houses. The London premiere was in February 2015 and a US tour began later that year. An Australian production will open in Sydney in September this year.

During its two and a half year run in the West End, the Olivier, Tony and Grammy award-winning show had two visits from Carole King, when on both occasions she surprised the cast and audience at the curtain call. Both times she was greeted with a standing ovation at the Aldwych Theatre as she took to the stage to sing her classic hit You’ve Got A Friend. Joining King for London’s opening night were fellow composers Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, whose story is also told as part of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is the untold story of her journey from school girl to superstar; from her relationship with husband and song-writing partner Gerry Goffin, their close friendship and playful rivalry with fellow song-writing duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, to her remarkable rise to stardom. Along the way, she became one of the most successful solo acts in music history, and wrote the soundtrack to a generation.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical features the Carole King classics including So Far Away, It Might as Well Rain Until September, Take Good Care of my Baby, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Up on the Roof, Locomotion, One Fine Day, You’ve Got a Friend, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and I Feel the Earth Move, along with hits from songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil like You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, On Broadway and Uptown.

The West End cast comprises Cassidy Janson in the title role, Matthew Seadon-Young as King’s husband and song-writing partner Gerry Goffin, Stephanie McKeon as song-writer Cynthia Weil, Ian McIntosh as song-writer Barry Mann, Joseph Prouse as music publisher and producer Donnie Kirshner and Barbara Drennan as King’s mother Genie Klein.

They are joined by Gavin Alex, Georgie Ashford, Koko Basigara, Tsemaye Bob-Egbe, Ashford Campbell, Treyc Cohen, Natasha Cottriall, Michael Duke, Matthew Gonsalves, Jammy Kasongo, Leigh Lothian and Earl R. Perkins who play iconic musical performers and band members of the era and swings Derek Aidoo, Rosie Heath, Dominic Hodson, Emma Louise Jones, Jessica Joslin, Vicki Manser, David O’Mahony and Jaime Tait.