Sunday, December 29, 2019

A Topsy-Turvy Time for Fun

Head Over Heels


William Giammona, David Bicha, Stephanie Temple, Jake Daniel Leahy, Scott Scholes,
Abigail Campbell, and Casey Anne Apregan  Photo: Lois Tema

Music and Lyrics by The Go-Go's
Directed by Ed Decker
New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco

Until January 12, 2020

Reviewed by Christine Okon

If you’re in the mood for a fun party where 16th-century royalty bops to a 1980’s beat, head on over to New Conservatory Theatre Center's production of “Head Over Heels,” Jeff Whitty’s unlikely but delightful musical mashup of Sir Philip Sidney’s romance “Arcadia” and songs by The Go-Go’s.

"Head Over Heels" has a simple, rambling plot that follows a royal family as they come full circle to preserve the kingdom of Arcadia’s most precious resource, The Beat, and thus rediscover themselves and each other.

Ella Ruth Francis Photo: Lois Tema
King Basilius (William Giammona), Queen Gynecia (Stephanie Temple), and their daughters Pamela (Ella Ruth Francis) and Philoclea (Kimberley Cohan) go about their lives in peaceful Arcadia. As the self-absorbed Pamela, Francis exults in the bigger-than-life beauty that's magnified by huge projections (Chris Lundahl and Sarah Phykitt) of her ubiquitous face. Cohan brings a wide-eyed honesty to Philoclea who is in love with her childhood friend Musidorus, the humble shepherd played with Harpo Marx-like comic innocence by Scott Scholes. 

Rotimi Agbabiaka* Photo: Lois Tema

Like a fabulous, shimmering Trickster, Rotimi Agbabiaka shines as the Oracle Pythio who warns that the only way to preserve Arcadia’s Beat is to reinvent the status quo with topsy-turvy changes, which make for some very funny scenes. To keep the Beat, ya gotta let loose and enjoy the ride.  It’s like shaking a gender-fluid snowglobe where things settle in the most delightfully unpredictable ways.

Try not to time travel back to the Reagan era 1980's when you hear The Go-Go's hits like “We Got the Beat,” “Get Up and Go,” “Cool Jerk,” “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Lust to Love,” “Head Over Heels,” and “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”

William Giammona, Danya El-Kurd, Rotimi Agbabiaka*and David Bicha Photo: Lois Tema

Like many shows by New Conservatory Theatre Center, this "Head Over Heels" features some sharp choreography by Rick Wallace to the bouncy beat of Mark Dietrich and band. If you’re resolving to make changes in the New Year, "Head Over Heels"will no doubt get you up and going.

"Head Over Heels," music by The Go-Go’s, book by Jeff Whitty and Sir Philip Sidney, directed by Ed Decker. New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco, through January 12, 2020. Info: NCTSF.org

CAST
Rotimi Agbabiaka* (Pythio), Casey Anne Apregan (Ensemble),  DavidBicha (Dametas), Abigail Campbell (Ensemble), Daniel Cancel (Ensemble), Ciara Carvajal (Ensemble), Kimberley Cohan (Philoclea), Danya El-Kurd (Mopsa), Ella Ruth Francis (Pamela), William Giammona (Basilius),
Jake Daniel Leahy (Ensemble), Scott Scholes (Musidorus), and Stephanie Temple (Gynecia).

*Appears through the courtesy of Actors' Equity Association

CREATIVE TEAM
Director Ed Decker
Musical direction - Mark Dietrich
Choreography - Rick Wallace
Production audio engineering - Wayne Cheng
Costume design - Wes Crain
Props design - J. Conrad Frank
Stage management - Toni Lynn Guidry
Lighting design / Projections - Chris Lundahl
Fight choreography - Kristen Matia
Scenic design/Projections -Sarah Phykitt

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