Review: "From Here" is the Memorial Orlando Needs for Now
Book, music, lyrics, and direction by Donald Rupe
Arrangements and orchestrations by Jason M. Bailey
Presented by Equality Florida
Streaming at From Here June 12-June 28, 2020
|RJ Silva, Justin Jimenez, and Peter Heid (foreground L-R). Photo by Ashleigh Ann Gardner.
|Planned memorial and museum to those lost during the Pulse nightclub shooting. Source: Orlando Sentinel
All of the action of the play occurs in front of the backdrop of a street map of downtown Orlando with a large, red heart at the center marking the site of the Pulse nightclub. Despite the mostly humorous first half of the show, the backdrop is a constant reminder of what’s to come and gives a haunting sense to any laughter that occurs. Despite its too heavy reliance on the trope of the magical queer (especially in the song “Gay is Better”), the first half is a good time with catchy numbers performed by incredible talents. Aburn has a command of the stage while Dobbs and Dorothy Christopher, who plays his best friend Michelle, can belt their numbers with the best of them.
The disaster moment that you know is coming happens halfway through the show. Before this, the major tension is the rift between Daniel and his mother. Daniel asks whether someone can replace the love that a mother gives. The answer is pretty obvious. Yes, of course they can. And the group of queers who surround, love, and support Daniel have replaced and improved upon his mother’s mercurial love. After Daniel receives a call that there has been a shooting at Pulse, the show shifts gears. What happens in the second half is itself a memorial to those lost and to what Pulse stood for. Not just a nightclub, Pulse was a hub of community outreach for the queer community and “a hub for HIV prevention, breast cancer awareness and immigrant rights.”
You can see the show until June 28th on its website (streaming the production is free, and patrons are encouraged to contribute to the #HonorThemWithAction campaign). Of course, it had to be cut short due to the pandemic, but plans remain for it to come to NYC for a memorial showing when things get better—if they ever do. Let’s hope so. From Here is worth the watch and right now, might be the best memorial to the lives of those lost in Orlando.