‘HEAD OVER HEELS’ IS NOT YOUR AVERAGE HOLIDAY JUKEBOX MUSICAL THAT ROCKS IN THE SEASON
THE GO GO’S MUSICAL IS FUN WITH A TERRIFIC CAST, THIS IS A CELEBRATION OF GENDER DIVERSITY AND ACCEPTANCE
The beat is fun and hopping in the Go Go’s inspired musical HEAD OVER HEELS, now on stage at the New Conservatory Theatre Center through Jan 12th. The music of the iconic punk pop girl band, the Go-Go’s, meets the Elizabethan era in a fun over the top story. The mosh of the Go Go’s classic songs drive the sometimes silly story to sheer pleasure. The NCTC Founder and Artistic Director Ed Decker says “Head Over Heels is a fun-filled pop musical with a huge beating heart that revels in the marvel of all that we are and should always aspire to be. NCTC is thrilled to bring this inspirational show back to San Francisco in a new production that continues the celebration of love, inclusiveness, and the joyful multiplicity of identity.”
The book is adapted by James Magruder from the original story conceived by Jeff Whitty, based on “The Arcadia” by Sir Philip Sidney. Music and lyrics by the Go-Go’s. Directed by the terrific Ed Decker, Music Director Mark Dietrich and over the top choreography by the clever Rick Wallace. The story is an inspired mashup of punk pop 80’s tunes set to an unpredictable Elizabethan romp about a royal family that must prevent an oracle's prophecy of doom. In order to save their beloved kingdom, the family sets on a romp of a journey mixed with mistaken humorous identities, jealous lovers, sexual awakening, a huge serpent, where everything and everyone is not quite what it seems and have unpredictable needs. The two act musical includes some eye catching musical numbers and a company of local favorites including Rotimi Agbabiaka and David Bicha.
The two and half hour romp opens with “We Got The Beat” featuring the amazing vocals of the marvelous Danya El-Kurd who plays Mopsa and the entire company that set the pace for this full throttle musical. HEAD OVER HEELS features seventeen of The Go-Go's iconic hit songs including; "Get Up and Go," "Cool Jerk," "Vacation," "Our Lips Are Sealed," "Lust to Love," "Head Over Heels" and Belinda Carlisle's solo hits "Mad About You" and "Heaven is a Place on Earth." Based on the 16th century fable “Arcadia,” this pop musical takes you back in time and Wallace’s flawless choreography is the highlight of the show. Costume designer Wes Crian’s brilliant Elizabethan look of color camp and class took the sold out opening night audience to a Shakespearean world.
Director Decker has a cast of eight leads and five ensemble members with the splendid talent to create the exaggerated Shakespearean ramble of lyrics, dance and self discovery. Decker keeps the romp moving and the story engaging, funny and naughty with sexual innuendos that make the story work behind the pop of the 80’s. There is an edge to the story including the shepherd Musidorus played by the accomplished Scott Scholes who boasts “ I am is ready to go all masculine to welcome that feminine part of myself, I rather be “they” rather than “he.” Scholes make a campy queen for most of the first act and is a blast when he sings “Mad About You”.The marvelous Stephanie Temple plays the Queen and mother Gynecia and rocks each Go Go’s number she sings including “This Old Feeling”. Next to her is the exceptional William Giammona as King Basilius who commands the stage in “Get Up and Go” along with the camp ensemble.
The powerhouse Ella Ruth Frances steals the show as Pamela, one of the two sisters. Frances has a gifted voice as she sings "Automatic Rainy Day" alongside El-Kurd as they both stop the show. Kimberley Cohan plays the second sister, Philoclea, and she falls in love with gender perfect Musidorus as they sing “Our Lips are Sealed” a Go Go classic. NCTC vet David Bicha is back at the Ed Decker stage and plays the extraordinary Dametas who along with the entire cast opens the second act with the banner song “Head Over Heels”.
Rotimi Agbabiaka holds “The Beat” together as the flawless oracle Pythio dressed in the glamorous Wes Crain snake perfect gowns. Agbabiaka sings “Vision of Nowness” with the company and prop mistress J Conrad Frank sets the perfect look with the eye candy props for Pythio and cast. The prophesized doom Pythio predicts is rolled in with the busy talented ensemble including the high kicking Daniel Cancel, Abigail Campbell, Casey Anne Apregan, Cirara Carvajal and the camp Jake Daniel Lehahy. "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" features the full throttle ensemble and Cancel’s flips and energy spins set designer Sarah Phykitt’s set as it easily transforms into the many locations for the Arcadia world. Her set is very colorful and with benches that change one after the other to reveal this vibrant city and adventure.
The craft team also includes the exquisite lighting and projections of Chris Lundahl who created an easy pop look for this scaled down version of HEAD OVER HEELS. Lundahl’s bright fantasy look brings a vibrant mood of colors especially when Agbabiaka is on stage as the tremendous mythical Serpent. Kristen Matia adds to Wallace’s dance with great fight scenes. David Craver-Ford and Cookie Jordans wigs and hair design add dazzle to this camp pop gem. Sound designer, Wayne Cheng, keeps the band mix perfect and pop. Music director Mark Dietrich’s band with Nicholas Martin and Tim Vaughan rocks every number as they blow out the Decker Theatre.
HEAD OVER HEELS will bring the “Holiday Pop” to your winter season. This sure fun and energy will make any none Go Go’s fan a true lover of the “the beat.”. This eye candy new fairy tale musical will make you get up and dance and sing. This is a celebration of gender diversity and acceptance - the happy ending of this queer musical is back to the Bay Area for the Holidays and welcomes in the new decade. It is a Must See. Next up at NCTC is YOU’LL CATCH FLIES by Ryan Fogarty that opens January 17th and the Asian epic THE BOOK OF MOUNTAINS AND SEAS opens March 6th. But in the meantime catch the beat and bring your own heels.
The New Conservatory Theatre Center Presents
‘HEAD OVER HEELS’
Book by James Magruder,
Adapted from the 16th-century comedy “Arcadia,” by Sir Philip Sidney.
Featuring music by The Go-Go’s
Directed by Ed Decker
Music Director Mark Dietrich
Choreographed by Rick Wallace
Only Through Jan 12th
NCTC 25 Van Ness St.
San Francisco Ca
2 hours 40 minutes, one intermission
Photos courtesy of Lois Tema
VIDEO CLIP Head Over Heels
CAST Rotimi Agbabiaka • Casey Anne Apregan • David Bicha • Abigail Campbell • Daniel Cancel • Ciara Carvajal • Kimberley Cohan • Danya El-Kurd • Ella Ruth Francis • William Giammona • Jake Daniel Leahy • Scott Scholes • Stephanie Temple
THE GO GO'S TALK ABOUT THE CURRAN THEATRE OPENING