The new musical Head Over Heelsis indulgently directed by Michael Mayer, who has created an over-the-top fantasia. On the plus side, the music of The Go-Go’s is well sung and for once with an authentic pop sound thanks to the musical supervision, orchestrations, and arrangements by Tom Kitt. This show has one of the best drummers I have ever heard, thanks to Dena Tauriello. The problem is, you will not want to equate the music with this storyline.
Head Over Heelshas an abundance of energy and this could have been a really fun show. Jeff Whitty’s original book, later adapted by James Magruder and lightly based on Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th The Arcadia, has been remade to make everything seem like something else, but with gay, transgender, and non-binary connotations, with the straight people considered outdated. This wouldn’t be so disappointing if the dialogue was witty or served a purpose.
The show starts off with a zany version of “We Got the Beat,” which is what the land of Arcadia is known for. The choreography by Spencer Liff and costumes by Arianne Phillips standout and we think we are in for a fascinating show, but everything just goes over-the-top and too far. The King of Arcadia (a vocally fabulous Jeremy Kushnier) is summoned by the Oracle of Delphi (Peppermint, the drag queen and the first transgender woman to originate a principal role in a Broadway musical) for a word. The prophecy the Oracle gives is; “Thy younger daughter brings a liar to bed/He thou shalt forbid; she he’ll then assume! Thy elder daughter shall consent to wed; She’ll consummate her love—but with no groom! Thou with thy wife (Rachel York) adult’ry shall commit. You will meet and make way for a better King.” The King, along with Dametas, the King’s viceroy (Tom Alan Robbins), devise a plan to flee as to evade the prediction.
His daughters have plans of their own. The youngest, Philoclea (Alexandra Socha), considered plain by her family, whose friendship to her childhood friend, the poor shepherd Musidorus (Andrew Durand), has blossomed into something more. Out of duty, she has turned down his marriage proposal. When the family flees, Musidorus is told by the Oracle to dress as an Amazon to gain Philoclea’s love. When “Cleophila” comes to the camp as the Amazon, everyone falls for her.
Philoclea’s sister, Pamela (Bonnie Milligan), is vain and cares for Mopsa (Taylor Iman Jones), her lady-in-waiting, but can’t admit it. As the show progresses, Pamela and Mopsa succumb when they think Philoclea and Cleophila play for the same team.
In the end, lovers unite and the #MeToo movement gets a say as Musidorus, having grown attached to his female alter-ego, decides she gets to stay.
Milligan is hilarious as she absolutely believes in her right to have anything and anyone she wants. Her vocals kick into high gear with “How Much More”. Milligan and Jones also shine in “Automatic Rainy Day”.
to Lesbos and the female cast members act as fish. “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” turns into a shadow screen orgy, but it is so over-the-top and in the end, just way too much.
Head Over Heels: Hudson Theatre, 141 West 44th St.