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REVIEW: Students dazzle in “Head Over Heels”

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Kylie Portz
The reporter holds up a copy of the “Head Over Heels” program in Fisher Theater.

Fisher Theatre was alive with music, laughter and tears as the ISU Department of Music and Theatre performed “Head Over Heels.” I had the pleasure of attending Friday evening’s performance and was not disappointed.

Spoilers of the show to follow. 

“Head Over Heels” is a jukebox musical featuring the music of 80s rockers The Go-Gos. The musical starts out in the kingdom of Arcadia, with its ruling family made up of King Basilius (Zane McSheehy; freshman, performing arts), his wife Gynecia (Valentine Chenus; senior, environmental science) and their two daughters Pamela (Annika Baker; senior, performing arts) and Philoclea (Asia Keane; sophomore, performing arts).

After yet another failed attempt to find a suitor for the beautiful older daughter Pamela, King Basillius receives a summons to visit the oracle Pythio. The oracle gives King Basillius four prophecies and warns him that his kingdom will lose its famous “beat.”

What follows is a hilarious series of events as each prophecy comes to pass, despite the King’s viceroy Dametas’ (Samuel McDaniel; senior, performing arts) tireless attempts to thwart them. 

The musical features heavy themes of queer love and acceptance with Pamela and her servant and lover Mopsa (Mia Nollett; sophomore, environmental science), a cross-dressing Amazon warrior who is in love with Philoclea, as well as the non-binary oracle Pythio (Brandon Schumann; senior, performing arts). 

Baker stuns with her portrayal of the loveable yet vain Pamela as the older sister finds herself on her own journey of self discovery. Baker shares a passionate duet with Nollett as the two part ways in “Automatic Rainy Day,” only to reunite after confessing their mutual love in “Our Lips Are Sealed.”

While the ingenue of the story, Pamela’s sister Philoclea was portrayed by the talented Keane. Philoclea finds herself in her own tragic love story as her father forbids her to see her love, the shepherd Musidorus (Ashton Hale; junior, performing arts). 

Hale’s comedic timing left the audience howling with laughter at various parts of the musical, with his goofy band of sheep as his background singers and dancers in “Mad About You.”

At one point Hale’s, Musidorious performs what can only be described as a hilarious seduction dance behind Basillius and Gynecia as the two sing about their attraction to the beautiful Cleophila in “This Old Feeling.” 

The antagonist of the story Pythio is hard to hate as Schumann stuns with brilliant costuming, hair and makeup and their electrifying performance in “A Vision of Nowness.”

The creative team’s masterful creation of the world of Arcadia transported audiences with the stunning scenic design of Brian C. Seckfort, a theatre specialist for the department. The colorful costuming of designer and teaching professor Kelly Marie Schaefer innovatively merges elements of Elizabethan and 80s era styles, with each character’s costumes adding that final touch to their personalities. 

Department chair,Brad Dell’s direction, with co-direction and choreography by Laura Wurzell, is captivating and heartwarming, keeping audiences entertained throughout the performance.  

My hats go off to the cast and crew who created a fun and fresh show that brought light and love to the Fisher Theater stage. ISU’s Music and Theater Department is full of exceptional talent and future performances and events can be found on their website.

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