Head Over Heels is a novel by Jeff Whitty, which was adapted into a musical by James Magruder. This high energy musical includes hit songs from the 80’s rock band, The Go-Go’s. At Seattle’s Arts West production, it is directed by Mathew Wright.
The story takes place in the kingdom of Arcadia. It is peaceful and prosperous, however, old-fashioned. Basilius (Louis Hobson), the king of Arcadia meets with an Oracle, Pythio (Mila Jam). He receives a prophecy of 4 parts that, if they were to occur, will destroy the world. In an attempt to pre-emptively stop this terrible fate, Basilius sets off to slay the ‘new king’ the prophecy calls for. He also brings his family along with him; thus begins the long journey of twists and turns.
Script and Direction
The script of the play successfully integrates both old English as well as the modern vernacular, helping the audience understand what is being said. This technique helps the comedic timing, as some jokes consist of the instant transition between the old English and modern vernacular. The sudden switch between the two create humorous dialogue between characters.
The dance choreographer, UJ Mangune did a phenomenal job for the play. The movements of the ensemble didn’t feel like it was over-taking the main actors at any time. The transitions in between scenes were smooth and it was a joy to watch the musical numbers because of the choreography. Furthermore, the costume design(Jocelyne Fowler), especially for Pythio, was innovative because it included men wearing corsets. This brought out the non-binary aspect of Pythio.
Pamela, played by Alex Sturtevant provided strong vocals that filled the entire room and attracted the entire audience’s attention from her first solo music number. She is the King’s daughter and spends the play coming to terms with her sexuality and accepting it. Meanwhile, Dametus was the perfect foil to Basilius, and provided the best comedic relief with his expressions and line delivery. He is the King’s right-hand man and supports the King throughout the story. Lastly, Dobson fantastically portrayed Musidorus and his character arc throughout the play. Starting off as the shy Shepard’s boy and growing as a person throughout the story.
Although the comedy in the play hits its mark most of the time, an audience that is older than the age of 16 is most suitable to enjoy the play. A lot of the comedy references sex and parts of the human anatomy.
Head Over Heels provides a nice story of love and acceptance of all. Its high-energy music will get everyone dancing on their feet by the end of it.
Head Over Heels original novel by Jeff Whitty, adapted by James Magruder and directed by Mathew Wright. Arts West Playhouse and Gallery, 4711 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116. Nov 21 – Dec 29, Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm. Tickets: https://www.artswest.org/theatre-plays/head-over-heels/