Head Over Heels - December 03 - December 05, 2021

Illinois Wesleyan University School of Theatre Arts


Director's Note


This binary-busting love story that celebrates and highlights the gender and sexuality spectrum, follows the escapades of our royal family on an outrageous epic journey to save their beloved kingdom from extinction—only to discover the key to their realm’s survival lies within each of their own hearts. They, like us, must open their hearts to understanding the universality of love. Bridging the 1580s and the 1980s, the show’s plot is based on Sir Philip Sidney’s 16 th -century prose poem “The Arcadia” and the song catalogue of the 20 th -centruy “all-girl” punk turned pop band, The Go-Go’s. Through this decidedly classic plot containing typical usurped kingship, unlikely lovers, and gender-fluid disguises, this jukebox musical preaches unconditional acceptance of ourselves and others, no matter our own gender or sexual identity, and uses some of the greatest pop hits of the MTV era to drive the message home. James Magruder, who adapted the libretto for Broadway, said in an interview that “it was only in the last few weeks prior to opening in NYC that I realized what the show is about. This is a little bit of a downer, but change - or die. Generations must be open to change.” Magruder helped put the show’s spoken dialogue into iambic pentameter. “It’s in blank verse, which is sort of William Shakespeare’s mode of communication - five stressed syllables. The pulse of the book is set to match the pulse of The Go-Go’s music.” Magruder adds, “This was how the idea was conceived. The Go-Go’s have a sharp sense of humor, there is an edge and a subversive twist to them that isn’t always apparent, and to me the show captures that.” For me, the most surprising thing directing the show, perhaps, is that after all is said and done, this purposely low-brow, far-from-subtle propaganda statement for sexual equality turns out to be a wittily wicked romp. It is always great to laugh at our humanity, our hubris, and rediscover our heart. After two years of dealing with COVID-19 and its impact on the arts community, it was heartening to welcome this post-plague -21 st -century Renaissance by presenting a piece first conceived during the great Renaissance. Hopefully we are turning the page to a new era for the theatre, one more inclusive and equitable – one that truly embraces love is love is love is love. On a more personal note, I’d like to thank Kameron Roberts, junior BFA Music Theatre major and my assistant director on this piece. Thank you Kam for sitting next to me every night and generously sharing your lived experience and keeping this production honest. We truly couldn’t have done it without you.

- Scott Susong, Director




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