Dear readers,

Before I was ever a writer and editor, I was, and continue to be, a theatre professional. Specifically a director and stage manager. For the last month I’ve been in Los Angeles to direct a workshop production of a new dramatic musical. I’ve been immensely privileged to work on all three of Wayne Self’s original musicals, including this latest work, Upstairs, about the 1973 arson fire at the Up Stairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans. It’s rare in musical theatre to be able to address such weighty themes; the Up Stairs Lounge fire is as much a part of the LGBTQ rights story as Stonewall, Harvey Milk, the AIDS Quilt, and Prop 8. Itis a story that needs to be told, and it needs to be remembered.

Today I am asking for three things:

1. Donate to the Upstairs Kickstarter. We need to raise $10,000 by February 17, or we get none of the money pledged so far. Every little bit helps, even just a dollar or two. 

2. If you will be in the San Francisco Bay Area 2/12-2/14, come see one of the three workshop performances of Upstairs.

3. If you know anyone who might be interested in helping us make the New Orleans 40th anniversary performance and an L.A. production a reality this summer, pass along the Upstairs website and Kickstarter information to them. Signal Boost this everywhere you can.

What’s this about?

Upstairs tells the long-forgotten story of a tragic arson fire in a gay bar in New Orleans in 1973. Thirty-two people, many of them members of the then-fledgling New Orleans Metropolitan Community Church, which had been meeting at the Up Stairs Lounge, were killed, in what remains to this day the single deadliest crime against an LGBT population in US history. At the time, the story was almost completely ignored by the news media. Though a suspect was identified, no arrest was ever made.

Wayne’s play is an elegant, haunting tale of damnation and salvation, telling the stories of several of the victims of the fire. The characters  include Buddy (based on the real Buddy Rasmussen), a bartender who led 35 people to safety, and Buddy’s partner Adam. Mitch, the associate pastor of the NOLA MCC, and his partner Horace. Drag performer Marcy and her dresser Reginald. And Agneau, a tormented and self-hating gay man. It is a morality play with a twist, told with sensitivity and dark humor, with a catchy and modern jazz and blues influenced score.

The cast is amazing: professional, insightful, and just tremendously talented. This Q&A with some of the cast members will give you an idea of the caliber of people I am working with.

In two weeks we will be premiering this workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. Performances are scheduled for 2/12 in San Mateo, 2/13 in Berkeley, and 2/14 in San Francisco, and tickets are still available.

We hope to bring an expanded production to New Orleans this summer, in time for the 40th anniversary of the fire, and to bring the show to Los Angeles for a two week run after that. But that will only happen if the workshop performances and our Kickstarter are a success.

As I said at the opening, here’s how you can help:

1. Donate to the Upstairs Kickstarter. We need to raise $10,000 by February 17, or we get none of the money pledged so far. Every little bit helps, even just a dollar or two. 

2. If you will be in the San Francisco Bay Area 2/12-2/14, come see one of the three workshop performances of Upstairs.

3. If you know anyone who might be interested in helping us make the New Orleans 40th anniversary performance and an L.A. production a reality this summer, pass along the Upstairs website and Kickstarter information to them. Signal Boost this everywhere you can.

Thank you so much for any support you can give.

Zach McCallum (aka Nezu)
Director, Upstairs

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~ by Nezu on 1 February 2013.

2 Responses to “”

  1. Boosted on G+, and other points already taken care of. 🙂

  2. Wish I lived in S.F. so I could check out this beautiful house myself. Can’t wait to see upstairs!

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