“Head Over Heels” Drops 1980’s Pop Rock Into The 16th Century At New Line

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Girls of the chorus and Grace Langford spin to the music of the Go-Go’s in the New Line Theatre production of “Head Over Heels.” All photos are by Jill Ritter Lindberg

A wild and mind bending mix of cultures delights at New Line Theatre as the recent Broadway smash musical, “Head Over Heels” keeps the audience rocking and laughing. Based on “The Arcadia” by 16th century author Sir Philip Sidney, adapted for the stage by James Magruder, with music from the work of the 1980’s girl band, The Go-Go’s, this makes for a glorious anachronistic romp through the centuries that seems like a well planned mash-up.

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Carrie Wenos Priesmeyer as the queen and Zachary Allen Farmer as the king in “Head Over Heels” at New Line Theatre.

King Basilius- a powerful and devious ruler played to the hilt by Zachary Allen Farmer- has decided to deceive his wife with a “white lie” as he hides the truth about the near extinction of their beloved Arcadia and claims that the Oracle of Delphi has commanded them to pack up and move. Farmer has a regal air about him and carries through with his usual flair and ear for the music now matter who he plays on stage. As his Queen, Carrie Wenos Priesmeyer also displays musical chops and has a lot of fun with her role as monarch and mother of two princesses she is trying to marry off.

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Grace Langford as Princess Pamela and Jaclyn Amber as Mopsa in the New Line production of “Head Over Heels.”

A lot of intrigue and deceit help drive the plot as one princess can’t find a suitable mate until an unexpected one pops up in the one closest by, her servant. Grace Langford is the suddenly enlightened Princess Pamela and the expressively delightful Jaclyn Amber plays the new love of her life, Mopsa. On the other end of the sibling rivalry is a superb Melissa Felps as Princess Philoclea, as powerful an actress as she is a singer, and the love of her life, the shepherd boy Musidorus played with charm by Clayton Humburg. Playing half the show as a disguised Amazon warrior, he makes am amazing, though hairy legged, female fighter but manages to fool the usual unsuspecting musical comedy principals on stage.

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Tielere Cheatem as the outlandish Pythio in “Head Over Heels” at New Line Theatre.

Rounding out the major cast are Aaron Allen as the king’s right hand man, Dametas, who just happens to be the father of Mopsa. He gives a wonderful comedic performance. Then, almost stealing the show with his outlandish female impersonator role of Pythio, the oracle, is Tielere Cheatem who manages to slither his way through several numbers with such skill and suave savvy that he bedazzles us all.

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Clayton Humburg as Musidorus (dressed as an Amazon warrior) with Melissa Felps as Princess Philoclea in New Line’s production of “Head Over Heels.”

Special props to the mind boggling choreography by Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae Womack who also are part of the eight person chorus. Not only is the dancing complicated and dazzling, but is executed so well by this talented cast that it really makes you take special notice. Along with that are the colorful and coordinated costumes and wigs by Courtney Gibson and Sarah Porter. A swirl of color and heightened by the sometimes frenetic choreography paints a beautiful stage picture. The Rob Lippert set and lights by Kenneth Zinkl just add to the brilliance of this production.

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Aaron Allen as Dametas provides advice to his daughter Mopsa played by Jaclyn Amber in “Head Over Heels” at New Line.

Co-directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor have brought this trippy mix of the 16th and 20th century together in fine fashion with action, comedy and a group of actors who can pull off both with one of the strongest sung shows you’ll ever see or hear. And, of course, a nod to the powerful New Line Band under the direction of Nicolas Valdez who manage to keep up with the incredible nonsense swirling around on stage.

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Clayton Humburg as Musidorus and a chorus of sheep sing the plaintive “Mad About You” by the Go-Go’s in “Head Over Heels” at New Line Theatre.

Not to be missed, “Head Over Heels” is one of the best shows you’re likely to see all year (and it’s only March!). Get thee to New Line Theatre between now and March 28th- you won’t forget it and you definitely won’t regret it.

 

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