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“Head Over Heels the Musical” is a delightfully hilarious romp

Sh-Ron Almeida

Asst. Arts and Entertainment Editor

Photo by Sh-Ron Almeida

Based on “The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia,” a 16th century play by Sir Phillip Sydney comes a colorful, energetic musical that’s hilarious as it is heartwarming. First debuting in summer of 2018, the original Broadway production was nominated for several awards in 2019. Reminiscent of other Broadway musicals and productions such as “Avenue Q” and “Spring Awakening,” “Head Over Heels” merges and celebrates a tale of comedy, music and love. Now, Rhode Island College Mainstage Theatre has graced us with this delightful play that went from Thursday April 13 to Sunday April 16.

“Head Over Heels” features jukebox ‘80s songs by the Go-Go’s including, “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips are Sealed” and “Vacation” as well as Belinda Carlisle’s classic hits including, “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “Mad About You.”

The musical’s story follows the royal family of Arcadia on their wacky journey to save their precious kingdom from certain destruction by finding their “Beat.” Over the course of two briskly paced acts, the king, queen and two daughters must withstand four trials to test their wills and loyalties. Then a tale of hijinks ensues involving romantic shenanigans, royal subterfuge and zany plot twists entangle and intertwine.

From the opening sequence, I knew I was in for a fun time. Each scene from the two acts had something to offer, garnering a good amount of laughs from the audience. It took me a while to adjust to the medieval dialect being used by the characters at first, but overtime even it started to grow on me.

The ensemble cast brought a lively flair to the stage as they portrayed their characters with an air of confidence and sincerity. Additionally, the characters featured in this musical were enjoyable and entertaining to watch. From the stubborn Basilius played by Matt Macy and the level headed Gynecia portrayed by Mackenzie Richard to the strong willed Philocela as Molly Donovan and the earnest Musidorius as Nick Corsi, everyone laid out their acting chops on the table.

One of the standout performances have to be the unapologetically sassy Pythio played by Zee Garcia, who lights up the stage with their pleasantly witty and flamboyant energy. I truly wish them best of luck in their next endeavors in the performing arts.

What I also found very refreshing was how there weren’t any real villains in the story – no serious threats to tackle or enemies to defeat. The true “threat” was the less than stellar qualities of the ensemble’s personalities, such as an unhealthy dose of stubbornness, ignorance, jealousy, greed, lust and selfishness. Most of these are led by fear, desperation and longing to achieve something or pining for someone they could never have. Sometimes, the trials we must face lie within each of our own hearts.

Overall, “Head Over Heels” was a wild ride of hilarity, flair and love that is definitely worth checking out. Whether you’re a student who is a theater major, a fan of ‘80s classic songs or just an enjoyer of a lighthearted, feel good love story, this musical has something for everyone.

The musical itself took place at the auditorium located in Roberts Hall. Show times included 7:30 p.m. performances from Thursday through Saturday as well as a 1 p.m. showing on Saturday and Sunday.


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