A hilarious, exuberant celebration of love, HEAD OVER HEELS follows the escapades of a royal family on an outrageous journey to save their beloved kingdom from extinction—only to discover the key to their realm’s survival lies within each of their own hearts. This laugh-out-loud love story is set to the music of the iconic 1980’s all-female rock band The Go-Go’s, including the hit songs, “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Vacation,” Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “Mad About You.”
The end result feels like what might happen if a road company of “Kiss Me, Kate” decided to moonlight at ’80s Night in a queer dance club . . . having seen the Broadway production last fall, I can safely say that Derek Van Barham and Elizabeth Swanson’s staging succeeds at melding bombastic self-conscious theatricality with warm intimacy and a winning, goofy desire to please.
A binary-busting love story that celebrates and spans the gender spectrum . . . In Kokandy’s production, directors Derek Van Barham and Elizabeth Swanson craft a joyful ode to all-gender romance and sex.
Broadway seemed to regard the whole endeavor as a curiosity (it wound up with zero Tony nominations), but after seeing Kokandy’s delightfully scrappy staging, you might come to think storefront was where Head Over Heels was destined to find its true fit…It’s like a high-minded beach read; for smartly silly summer fun, get up and go, go.
Superbly directed by Derek Van Barham and Elizabeth Swanson . . . In a nutshell, Elizabethan comedy meets modern constructs of gender fluidity in Kokandy’s top-notch production of HEAD OVER HEELS.
In this new innovative version, ‘mistaken identities’ have a deeper level. It’s not as easy as a man wearing a wig pretending to be a woman. These characters are grappling with their own sexual identity, gender fluidity and how to live their best life. Co-directors Derek Van Barham and Elizabeth Swanson use integrated casting to support the forward-thinking narrative.
This may be the hardest working cast of 2019 so far, with the bracing amount of energy they exude.
Adams-King, Cerza, Alsop, and the self-identified nonbinary plural Oracle, Pythio (Parker Guidry), steal the show with their vocal talents and humorous styles, as well as their exploration and discovery of sexual and gender fluidity. The eclectically queer show has something for everyone, and is an emotional rollercoaster that will have you dancing home, likely with a revived love for the Go-Gos.
Above all, a brilliantly cast company gives our quirky and convoluted Arcadians their full dramatic due. For all its mannered make-believe, Head Over Heels is a non-binary feast of alternative delights. More than most musicals, there really is something for everyone on Theater Wit’s well-bursting stage.
Head Over Heels received 6 Jeff nominations including Best Musical and Best Director of a Musical; the production won 1 Jeff Award for Best Choreography by Breon Arzell
Songs by The Go-Go’s
Based on The Arcadia by Sir Phillip Sidney
Conceived and Original Book by Jeff Whitty
Adapted by James Magruder
Co-Directors: Derek Van Barham & Elizabeth Swanson
Music Director: Kyra Leigh
Choreographer: Breon Arzell
Stage Manager: Hannah Cremin
Scenic Designer: Chris Rhoton
Costume Designer: Uriel Gomez
Lighting Designer: G. “Max” Maxin IV
Sound Designer: Mike Patrick
Intimacy Director: Sarah Scanlon
Fight Choreographer: Kate Booth
Properties Designer: Adam Borchers
Sound Engineer: Patrick O’Brien
Scenic Painter: Emily Boyd
Production Manager: Nicholas Reinhart
Producer: Scot Kokandy