“The View UpStairs” delivers a warm snapshot of the post-Stonewall era, when class differences were (and still are) a thorny issue in the LGBTQ community. It also suggests that “community” is both hard to define, yet absolutely essential for survival — perhaps the most important history lesson of all.
Max Vernon’s star is rising. Last year, his Off-Broadway musical KPOP took New York by storm. It was nominated for a bunch (and won some) awards and enjoyed a sold-out run. And, to top it all off, he had another show premiere last year, The View UpStairs, which he wrote the book, music, and lyrics for; that was also successful. But Vernon isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s been hard at work on his first-ever residency at Joe’s Pub at The Public in New York City entitled Max Vernon: Existential Life Crisis Lullaby.
A rising composer/lyricist/librettist and performer with an ear for joyful melody and an eye for all the quirks of pop and queer culture
While fraught with political and racial discourse, KPOP is also, at times, laugh out loud funny and a commentary on the actual K-pop industry, touching on the rapid pace of an industry that thrives on youth and beauty. As far as the soundtrack, KPOP, like the music it's named after, explores a wide range of genres and artistic interpretations. The show weaves dozens of bilingual songs into the plot, including a finale performance that features a stand out or two that could easily compete on Korean music charts.
The music in KPOP is exuberant, with sharp hooks and maddeningly catchy choruses. On paper, KPOP reads like Empire meets The Voice with a good dose of immersive-ness thrown in as the buzzword du jour. But the work is more than just that. KPOP is ultimately something even more powerful and rare and meaningful: they’ve made an empathy factory. One built for our time, right when we might need it the most. Long live KPOP. KPOP forever.
KPOP is gigantic. It is undoubtedly the most ambitious off-Broadway musical of the year, with pulse-quickening tunes...Composers Helen Park and Max Vernon re-create that magic with their irrepressible pop score, which will have you dancing through much of the show.
The delightful new musical KPOP knows what kind of immersive theater it wants to be: The script says it aims to plunge us into the world of contemporary Korean music “like a bubble bath,” and that’s exactly what it does. Tiny bubbles of pleasure keep floating up and bursting all around us. Pop! Pop! Pop! We’re sold.
Ms. Park’s and Mr. Vernon’s musical numbers, choreographed with slashing wit by Jennifer Weber, are as synthetically sweet and perversely addictive as the real thing. (Think of them as ear Skittles.)
Ambitious...wildly entertaining...an infectious original score composed by Helen Park and Max Vernon (in English and Korean). The musical numbers wouldn't look out of place at Madison Square Garden.
Exuberant, equal parts Willy Wonka and 'Blade Runner'...The show blasts away with a sonic boom.
The songs, by Helen Park and Max Vernon, make the case that bubble gum is an international language...insanely catchy songs with enough unbridled energy to generat an audience frenzy. It offers provocative ideas set to an irresistible beat; just try to resist it.
When the closing concert starts, it’s almost impossible to resist the infectious energy of the music itself, and of the mix of enthusiasm and precision in the performances. Composer/lyricists Helen Park and Max Vernon know, and clearly have enormous affection for, their source material, and many of the songs could work as both polished commercial pop songs and wry sendups of the tropes of those songs...Like the best pop songs, you walk out of KPOP feeling energized, thoroughly entertained, and humming a line of the chorus.
An exuberant, candy colored and satirical introduction to Korean pop music that ends with a legitimately mind-blowing concert...Audiences should be forgiven for demanding CDs as they exit through the lobby.
By the time the finale of KPOP comes around, if you’re not bopping along to the splashy, buoyant pop tunes by Max Vernon, well ... maybe you don’t like puppies or rainbows either.
An imaginative, powerful, beautifully performed theater piece…The diverse cast is uniformly strong, in their acting, singing and dancing. The brunt of the performing, however, is borne by dynamic Jeremy Pope as Wes…The show has had an interesting journey so far. Developed in part at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and at New York Stage and Film & Vassar at the Powerhouse Theater, it deserves further travel—to an uptown house.
Vibrant...the show swells with heart. The View UpStairs is ultimately a moving homage to LGBT culture, past and present.
A radical new musical...Vernon has succeeded in creating a musical that is authentic, funny, and deeply resonant. No one can leave the theatre untouched...Brilliant and fun.
Vernon’s musical uses the tragedies of the past to highlight the mistakes of the future...Scott Ebersold has directed this production to feel intimate, ensuring each of the characters have their time to shine and connect with the audience...Drama, music and lyrics are combined to create a thrilling experience...'The View UpStairs' is a magical, moving production that provokes important debates and a feeling of camaraderie.
Vernon expresses social insight well beyond his years...Vernon’s forte is his score which illuminates both the vibrancy and nuance of the spectrum in his character’s lives and emotions...The ensemble cast bringing The View UpStairs to life is poignant, sparkling, and in some sequined cases, dazzling...A new musical for even the most seasoned and experienced theatre professionals is a Herculean task; an original musical, not based on a well-known story or title, is almost unheard of in today’s commercial climate. Max Vernon and The View UpStairs fearlessly takes on both, much like the LGBT Community whose spirit, both past and present, passionately fills The Lynn Redgrave Theatre through May 21st.
Max Vernon has scripted an exceptional story…The libretto has some holes. But some of these dramaturgical things can easily be patched up…The characters that Vernon has crafted are vibrant, leaping off the page…It’s the personal relationships that are formed that keep this musical afloat…‘The View UpStairs’ is a great work but what sets this musical apart is the magnificent production design…absolutely a must see.
Likable new musical...Mr. Vernon’s score, which draws from the period’s disco, soft rock and glam sounds, is solid...unexpected and marvelous; channels a vintage camp that is all too rare nowadays.