Head over Heels (musical)
|Head Over Heels|
|Book||Conceived by & original book by Jeff Whitty; adapted by James Magruder|
|Basis||The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia|
by Sir Philip Sidney
|Productions||2015 Oregon Shakespeare Festival|
2018 San Francisco
Head Over Heels is a jukebox musical comedy with music and lyrics from the catalog of The Go-Go's. Jeff Whitty conceived the show and wrote the original book, which was then adapted by James Magruder after Whitty left the show due to conflict with incoming director Michael Mayer, who fired Whitty's entire original creative team. The plot of the Broadway version of the show is somewhat based on The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia written by Sir Philip Sidney in the 16th century. Head Over Heels opened at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in June 2015 and enjoyed a sold-out five-month run in the 1100-seat outdoor theater. After Whitty's departure, three years later Head Over Heels opened on Broadway on July 26, 2018, at the Hudson Theatre in a drastically different version; its final Broadway performance was January 6, 2019. The Broadway production ran 32 weeks but (unlike its sold-out predecessor) never once turned a profit. Licensing rights for future productions were acquired by Broadway Licensing in 2018. A cast album was released on October 12, 2018.
Head Over Heels is a jukebox musical that adapts the plot of The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, the 16th-century prose romance by Sir Philip Sidney. It resembles the Old Arcadia more closely than the New Arcadia. It follows the royal family of Arcadia on their journey to keep their famous "Beat".
The kingdom of Arcadia is peaceful and prosperous, its people's lives governed by a mysterious "Beat" ("We Got the Beat"). King Basilius and his wife Gynecia have two daughters. The younger, Philoclea, is in love with her childhood friend Musidorus, a shepherd who is not considered an appropriate match. The older, Pamela, is the most beautiful woman in the land, though she confesses to being jealous of her "plain" sister since she does not have to deal with suitors ("Beautiful"). As Basilius berates Pamela for sending another round of suitors away, a message arrives from Arcadia's new oracle Pythio, asking for a meeting with the royal family and warning that Arcadia may lose its famous Beat. Basilius and his loyal viceroy Dametas depart for the forest, with Gynecia reminding her hot-headed husband to listen to what Pythio has to say.
Pythio, who is non-binary, explains that the kingdom has become too rigid and traditional, and gives Basilius and Dametas four prophecies. ("Vision of Nowness")
- "Thy younger daughter will bring a liar to bed. He thou shall forbid, she he'll then assume."
- "Thou elder daughter will consent to wed. She'll consummate her love but with no groom."
- "Thou with thy wife, adultery shall commit"
- "You will meet and make way for a better king"
They explain that as these prophecies are fulfilled, four flags will fall. If all four fall, the Beat will be lost and the kingdom will succumb to a permanent distemperature, but it is possible to cheat the Oracle. Basilius, for whom the new king is the most pressing matter, decides to leave Arcadia to find and slay him on the road, bringing everyone along so he can keep watchful eyes on his wife and daughters. He lies to his family, explaining that Pythio only prophesized happy ends and that they must hunt a golden stag on the road. Gynecia is suspicious, but the kingdom prepares to embark anyway ("Get Up and Go"). As they are about to leave, Musidorus arrives, and Philoclea persuades her father to let him ask for her hand. The ensuing proposal is inelegant but heartfelt, and Gynecia is convinced. Basilius still thinks that Musidorus will be unable to provide for his daughter, and eventually the two agree. As Philoclea leaves, Musidorus repeats his vow of love and impulsively decides to follow the group ("Mad About You").
On the road, Philoclea asks her sister and Mopsa, Dametas' daughter and Pamela's loyal handmaid, for advice about Musidorus. Pamela tells her that she must do what is best for the kingdom, even if it hurts her specifically ("Good Girl"). Musidorus realizes that his journey was not well-planned, and worries that he may die in the forest before coming across a dead theatre troupe and their belongings. Pythio arrives and tells Musidorus to let his shepherd identity die, and take on a new personage so he can join Philoclea. They suggest the wardrobe and weapons of the Amazon, and Musidorus agrees ("Vision of Nowness" (Reprise)/"Beautiful" (Reprise)). As the traveling kingdom is attacked by a lion, Musidorus rescues Philoclea, and is asked to join the group on their journey. "Cleophila" agrees.
When Mopsa realizes that Pamela's ideal suitor might not be a man at all, she attempts to reassure Pamela by confessing that she has similar feelings. Pamela does not understand, and releases her from her duties. An angry Mopsa decides to leave and "follow her inclinations" to Lesbos ("Automatic Rainy Day"). Cleophila has become quite popular, with Basilius, Pamela, and Gynecia (who learns that "she" is a man, but not her true identity) all developing feelings for her, though Cleophila only has eyes for Philoclea ("Cool Jerk"). While away, Mopsa realizes that her feelings for Pamela remain, and decides to return ("Vacation").
Musidorus is able to evade Dametas' watchful eye with his female disguise, and is about to confess to Philoclea before a jealous and distraught Pamela interrupts them, destroying the room ("How Much More"). Philoclea is shocked that Pamela would be jealous of her and her new friend, and when Cleophila admits that she had reason to be, she realizes that the Amazon is actually Musidorus, and they embrace. Mopsa arrives and confesses her love to Pamela, who reciprocates. As Pythio's first two flags fall, both couples vow to keep their love secret ("Our Lips are Sealed").
As the trip continues, both couples are happy in their new relationships, though Musidorus must also deal with the king and queen's feelings for Cleophila ("Head Over Heels"). Dametas attempts to warn Basilius about the flags, but he brushes it off, as he is still king and no men have been seen with his daughters. He gives Cleophila a letter for "the one I love most". Doubtful but reassured by Philoclea that this must be for the queen, Cleophila delivers it to her. Basilius and Gynecia make plans to meet each other secretly in the caves, both believing they are writing to Cleophila ("This Old Feeling"). Confused by Mopsa's action, Dametas assures her that he will find her a husband. Mopsa and Pamela are unsure of what their relationship means, but they are elated to find another couple like themselves when they witness Philoclea and Cleophila kissing ("Turn to You").
Gynecia and Basilius both arrive in the pitch black cave to meet Cleophila, actually meeting each other. Pythio facilitates their conjoining, marking the fulfillment of the third prophecy ("Heaven is a Place on Earth"). Mopsa and Pamela tell their secret to their friends, prompting the other two to reveal that Cleophila is actually Musidorus. Though Pamela is initially annoyed that they do not have the same secret, the two sisters reconcile. Basilius and Gynecia arrive arguing, Dametas arrives with all three flags, and confusion breaks out when husband and wife both point out Cleophila as the one they have adultered with. An angry Philoclea explains Cleophila's true identity and that Musidorus is her love, not either of her parents. As the king and queen realize what really happened, Basilius decides that Musidorus must be the new king and challenges him to a duel ("Lust to Love"). Musidorus fights valiantly but is eventually slain.
As Philoclea mourns her lost love ("Here You Are"), Basilius understands the error of his ways. He takes off the crown, offering it to Gynecia, who he believes will be a better ruler. As she takes it, the fourth flag falls and, with all prophecies fulfilled, the citizens of Arcadia are struck with the loss of the Beat. Gynecia tells her people to pray to the gods for a new Beat, and one emerges, as does a golden stag. It is actually Musidorus, revived and returned to the overjoyed Philoclea, who proclaims her love and vows to marry him. Dametas realizes there is still one prophecy, prompting Pamela and Mopsa to admit their love to their surprised but accepting parents. As Dametas wishes that Mopsa's mother could be there, Pythio arrives. They are actually Dametas' lost wife, banished from Arcadia after they confessed their gender identity to him. They promise not to leave Mopsa again, and Dametas apologizes for his cruel treatment, embracing Pythio for who they truly are ("Mad About You" (Reprise)). Musidorus reveals his own gender fluidity, explaining that he plans to "keep Cleophila around". Basilius decides to leave his people, but Gynecia tells him to stay, as she thinks he will become a better man without a crown.
The reunited group travels to the nearest city, only for it to be Arcadia. Realizing that they have traveled in a circle, the group considers how they have changed on their journey and vow to become a wiser and more accepting society with their new Beat ("Finale").
Oregon Shakespeare Festival (2015)
The show made its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon on June 3, 2015, with an opening on June 13. The production ran until October 10 and was directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar.
In 2016, Michael Mayer replaced Iskandar as director. Also joining the re-imagined creative team were music supervisor Tom Kitt (who previously worked with Mayer on American Idiot) and Magruder to adapt Whitty's original libretto.
San Francisco (2018)
The show played the Curran Theatre in San Francisco between April 10 and May 6, 2018. The production was billed as the official pre-Broadway engagement. For this production, Michael Mayer directed.
Christine Russell, Donovan Leitch, and Rick Ferrari are the shows's lead producers.
Arianne Phillips is the show's costume designer, and Spencer Liff is the choreographer. Kevin Adams did the lighting design, Andrew Lazarow did the projection design, Kai Harada did the sound design, and Julian Crouch did the scenic and puppet design.
Songwriters listed in parenthesis.
At various moments in the show, "Skidmarks on My Heart" is played to signify realizations by the characters. It is included as a hidden track on the cast recording at the end of "Finale."
(*) Not included on the original Broadway cast recording.
An original cast album was produced through Sony Masterworks Broadway; it was digitally released on October 12, 2018, and the CD was released on November 9, 2018. The album features three bonus tracks: Turn to You (Pre-Prise), an acoustic version of "Automatic Rainy Day," and the Go-Go's performance of "This Town." The album was engineered by Isaiah Abolin and Lawrence Manchester, produced by Scott M. Riesett and Tom Kitt, and co-produced by Louise Gund and Christine Russell. The album's cover art features all the principal actors except Peppermint and Tom Alan Robbins.
Characters and original cast
Original casts of major productions
|Character||Oregon (2015)||San Francisco (2018)||Broadway (2018)|
|Basilius||Michael Sharon||Jeremy Kushnier|
|Gynecia||Miriam A. Laube||Rachel York|
|Philoclea||Tala Ashe||Alexandra Socha|
|Dametas||David Kelly||Tom Alan Robbins|
|Mopsa||Britney Simpson||Taylor Iman Jones|
|Musidorus||Dylan Paul||Andrew Durand|
Writing for Deadline, Greg Evans summed up his impression of the musical as "occasionally amusing, occasionally cloying", expressing disappointment that many popular Go-Go's songs appeared to have been flattened over the years the musical spent in development. In Entertainment Weekly, Kelly Connolly viewed the show more favorably, praising "the charismatic cast" and Michael Mayer's "joyful production"; she gave the A- score overall.
Awards and nominations
|Outer Critics Circle Awards||Outstanding New Broadway Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Book of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway)||Jeff Whitty and James Magruder||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costume Design (Play or Musical)||Arianne Phillips||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Bonnie Milligan||Nominated|
|Drama League Awards||Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical||Nominated|
|Distinguished Performance Award||Bonnie Milligan||Nominated|
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- Evans, Greg (July 27, 2018). "'Head Over Heels' Review: The Go-Go's Musical That Isn't". Deadline. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
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- Rolfe, Helen (June 22, 2018). "He Got the Beat: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with "Head Over Heels" Choreographer Spencer Liff". Dance Spirit. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
- Schrock, Madeline (June 22, 2018). "Ellenore Scott on Head Over Heels' LGBT Themes and What's Most Surprising about Broadway". Dance Magazine. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
- Vine, Hannah (July 27, 2018). "Inside Opening Night of Head Over Heels on Broadway | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
- Huston, Caitlin (July 27, 2018). "Ben Brantley issues apology for 'Head Over Heels' review". Broadway News. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
- Lefkowitz, Andy (September 28, 2018). "Go-Go's Musical Head Over Heels to Release Original Cast Recording". Broadway.com.
- Lenker, Maureen Lee (October 10, 2018). "Exclusive: Listen to three tracks from 'Head Over Heels' original Broadway cast album". EW.com.
- Hetrick, Adam (September 28, 2018). "Go-Go's Broadway Musical Head Over Heels Will Release Cast Album". Playbill.
- Crowley, Patrick (October 16, 2018). "Peppermint Omitted From 'Head Over Heels' Broadway Cast Album Cover: See the Reactions". Billboard.
- Connolly, Kelly (July 26, 2018). "Broadway's 'Head Over Heels' is a giddy neon anthem of acceptance: EW review". EW.com. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
- Lefkowitz, Andy (April 23, 2019). "Hadestown, Tootsie & Oklahoma! Lead 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations". Broadway.com. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Lefkowitz, Andy (April 17, 2019). "Nominations Announced for 85th Annual Drama League Awards". Broadway.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.