Kokandy Productions Presents HEAD OVER HEELS Review – We Got the Gender Fluid Beat, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED best play pick, Thru September 8
It’s not often that one thinks the sheep are stealing the show….
At least for this writer, the BAA’s of the prancing ensemble of sheep singing Mad About You, from Go-Go’s Brenda Carlisle in one of her solo stints, is beyond perfect, and especially in their curled hands hoof gestures. How perfect too that the curly sheep vests this ensemble dons don’t obsure the gender bending cross dressing hilarity (Costume Design: Uriel Gomez). It’s as if the Baton Show managed to teach Dolly the Sheep’s offspring a tune or two and how to DANCE DANCE DANCE their way into a second fifteen minutes of fame!
Actually that’s the touch of choreographer Breon Arzell we are seeing, who from beginning to end takes his cast of varying dance abilities and body shapes and transforms them into a moving and melodic body positive We Got the Beat shout out.
Showcasing songs from the 80’s Go-Gos, Jeff Witty (Concept/Original Book) and James Magruder (Adaptation) have created a most fun goof ball comedy musical where camp rules the day, the minutes, seconds and hours. It rules! It rocks!
Based on a 16th Century story The Princess of Arcadia by Sir Phillip Sidney the story line is akin to a straight man, in all senses, whom the gender fluid gaiety uses as its launch pad to bounce off of and keep you laughing. How inspired to hijack the lite calorie Go-Go’s tunes, which Music Director Kyra Leigh and her fellow musicians perform without a glitch. We Got the Beat indeed! You don’t have to be a die-hard Go-Go’s fan or even vaguely Go-Go’s literate to feel the fun, the beat and catch the tunes.
Co-Directors Derek Van Barham & Elizabeth Swanson know how to unleash their talented cast to pile on the shtick. It’s difficult to zero in on any one of the cast who shines the brightest because this is one heckuva GENDER FLUID GOT TALENT show. This reviewer went scrambling to the program notes to see who was the keeper of casting, which was truly inspired and especially in the choice of Jeremiah Alsop as a shepherd who goes into Amazon drag to better woo his love interest princess, and for casting triple threat Frankie Leo Bennett as the King. Of all the priceless moments in this production- and there are many!—the pregnant pause given to Bennett as he tunes in a new gender bender reality is a show capper that will keep you smiling as you walk out the door.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Title: HEAD OVER HEELS
Songs: The Go-Go’s
Based on: The Arcadia by Sir Phillip Sidney
Conceived and Original Book by: Jeff Whitty
Adapted by: James Magruder
Co-Directors: Producing Artistic Director Derek Van Barham and Elizabeth Swanson
Music Director: Kyra Leigh
Choreographer: Breon Arzell
Bridget Adams-King (Pamela), Jeremiah Alsop (Musidorus), Emily Barnash (Ensemble), Frankie Leo Bennett (Basilius), Caitlyn Cerza (Philoclea), Caitlin Dobbins (Ensemble), Britain Gebhardt (Ensemble), Connor Giles (Ensemble), Parker Guidry (Pythio), Kaimana Neil (Ensemble), Liz Norton (Gyncia), Deanalís Resto (Mopsa), Shane Roberie (Dametas), Roy Samra (Ensemble), Tiffany T. Taylor (Ensemble) and Marco Tzunux (Ensemble).
Courtney Dane Mize and Patrick O’Keefe.
Thru September 8
Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm
Sundays at 3 pm
1229 W. Belmont Ave.