With high-energy hits from the all-female rock band The Go-Go's, a 14-foot turntable on stage, and outrageous Tudor England-meets-the-1980s costumes, ISU Theatre's musical "Head Over Heels" will be a feast for the eyes and ears.
The laugh-out-loud love story is a modern fairy tale. Audiences will join the royal family of Arcadia on its journey to save its beloved kingdom, accompanied by a soundtrack of songs such as "We Got the Beat," "Our Lips Are Sealed," "Vacation," Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven is a Place on Earth" and "Mad About You."
The production opens Friday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in Fisher Theater. Performances are Oct. 27-28 and Nov. 2-3 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. There is no performance on Saturday, Nov. 4. General admission tickets are $25 for adults and free for Iowa State students and youth. This show contains adult language and content. For ticket information, visit theatre.iastate.edu.
"Head Over Heels" is co-directed by music and theatre department chair Brad Dell and guest artist-in-residence Laura Wurzell, a Pittsburgh-based professional choreographer and director with numerous musical theater credits.
"I was beyond excited at the opportunity to co-direct with Brad at Iowa State," Wurzell said. "We worked together in the Pittsburgh area well before he arrived at ISU and recognized that we connected creatively in a rather unique way. I was very excited to work on a show I had never done or seen produced. I love the 'blank slate' this provides at the start of a collaboration."
With a plot adapted from a 16th-century pastoral romance, "Head Over Heels" is an upbeat blend of comedic and heartfelt moments, Wurzell said, and the cast delivers on those elements.
Annika Baker, senior in performing arts, plays the role of Pamela, the eldest daughter of the royal family of Arcadia, who in Baker’s words, is a "bit of a brat." Bringing The Go-Go's musical hits to life on stage is one of the cast's biggest challenges, Baker said.
"Almost all of the vocal ranges in this show are two-plus octaves and require a lot of jumping between registers and styles," Baker said.
'Unmatched' creative design
"Head Over Heels" also features many larger-than-life design elements, such as a 14-foot turntable created by Brian Seckfort, theater specialist and scenic designer, and Zachary Hodgson, senior in performing arts and assistant scenic designer. The turntable is present in nearly every musical number and sometimes doubles as a giant music box and a forest.
While its costuming and design may be hyper specific, "Head Over Heels" shares universal themes that span time. Wurzell said the show will help explore the conflict of conforming to society's identity or 'beat' and celebrating one's individual 'beat.'
"The Arcadians are trying to preserve their 'beat' at all costs, but learn something about themselves along the way," she said.