It’s hard to imagine a more joyful swirl of activity than theatergoers are treated to in “Head Over Heels” — a show improbably set to the music of the Go-Go’s.
“We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed” and other songs associated with the 1980s band — which at the time was a bit unusual in being all-female — wouldn’t seem to be the proper soundtrack for the musical running through March 28 at the Marcelle. The latest offering from New Line Theatre, the show is set in the kingdom of Arcadia and features faux-Shakespearean dialogue.
But any concerns about stylistic incongruity are immediately dispelled. Co-directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor bring a freewheeling spirit to the proceedings, spinning a fantastical tale of romance that plays like “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” fueled by controlled substances.
The plot revolves around princess siblings Philoclea (Melissa Felps) and Pamela (Grace Langford), whose romantic pursuits coincide with uncertainty about the future of Arcadia. Their dad, King Basilius (Zachary Allen Farmer), rejects shepherd Musidorus (Clayton Humburg) as a suitor for Philoclea — but the young man refuses to be discouraged and adopts a disguise. Meanwhile, Pamela discovers that love is closer than she’d ever imagined.
Loosely based on a 16th-century pastoral romance by Sir Philip Sidney and adapted by James Magruder from an original book by Jeff Whitty, “Head Over Heels” is an offbeat take on a genre that has become quite popular on Broadway: the jukebox musical.
Choreographers Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae Womack apply inspired movement to Tom Kitt’s arrangements of Go-Go’s songs, and the New Line Band — led by music director and keyboardist Nicolas Valdez — lends the show an in-the-moment electricity.
The cast is excellent, with Jaclyn Amber, Carrie Wenos Priesmeyer, Tiélere Cheatem and Aaron Allen also turning in splendid performances.
“Head Over Heels” occasionally succumbs to silliness, but the show is engagingly and relentlessly upbeat. It’s a party you won’t want to leave.
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