Upstairs: The Musical | The Broadway at Pride Arts Center | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Upstairs: The Musical

Upstairs: The Musical

Courtesy Pride Films and Plays

When: Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 26 2017
Price: $35
upstairsthemusicalchicago.com
Like a lot of LGBTQ-themed theatre, Wayne Self's fictionalized account of the 1973 arson attack that killed 32 people at New Orleans gay bar the UpStairs Lounge operates from a place of cautionary nostalgia. A loose-knit family of hustlers, drag queens, and guys looking for a sense of community have their lives upended when a jilted lover takes indiscriminate revenge. Honoring queer trailblazers and the subculture they pioneered while celebrating the social progress that threatens to make them obsolete is a fine line to walk, and this Pride production codirected by Eric Coleman and Gary Trick navigates it to occasionally stirring effect. But too much of what works is dampened by what doesn't—like the vocals, consistently off-key, a plodding musical score, and a supremely silly device involving the apparition of a sanctimonious uncle who, for some reason, sounds like Fred Schneider of the B-52s. —Dan Jakes

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