Calliope's Character Corner: Musidorus
In keeping with the mash-up of style and genre that defines Head Over Heels, Musidorus is both a typical character of a traditional theatrical style, as well as a completely modern exploration of identity.
Head Over Heels is based on 'Arcadia', a prose pastoral romance by Sir Philip Sydney written at the end of the 16th century. In stories and plays of the Elizabethan era (including stuff from that Shakespeare dude), there were definitely well-worn character and story tropes, and the character of Musidorus intersects with several of them. He is the 'country boy', a simple and pastoral shepherd, and the show goofs with this in a very playful way by giving him an 'eclogue' speech pattern that he'll sometimes slip into, which the royal family sees as hopelessly backwards. He also engages in one of the signature tropes of Elizabethan comedy - the 'disguised character', who fools everyone with a cross-dressing costume change, propelling comedic plot twists. The list goes on - he's part of a quartet of youth who have confusing love connections, he has a duel, he is in love across a social divide - but I want to pick at the cross-dressed disguise a little further.
This sort of element can be great for laughs, but it can also be incredibly insensitive to people whose life includes drag, cross-dressing, or transgender identity. Head Over Heels certainly milks the comedy, but they also use this trope to thoughtfully progress the character. Musidorus never really goes back to the simple shepherd boy after discovering the feminine character Cleophila that he disguises herself as. She is powerful, respected, and desired, and who wouldn't want to hold onto an identity that brings such marvelous benefits? I won't give away plot revelations, but it isn't really a spoiler to spell out that Musidorus ends the show expressing genderfluidity - that she'll be keeping both aspects of himself around moving forward.
Hey look! Aren't you proud of me!? Unlike my last blog post, I actually went into the character before I digress into my casting anxiety.
That said, this is the second role I'm most worried about casting. I mean, do you know a really strong tenor that can also act and dance and is comfortable portraying male and female and genderfluidity on stage?
Seriously, do you? PLEASE tell me. Tell them about the show! Here's a handy audition link!
It truly is an amazing role for some lucky human. This will be a character everyone goes home talking about. They have a very strong character arc with self-discovery and growth and all along the way they have all kinds of fun. Everyone loves Musidorus/Cleophila - seriously, there are whole songs where everyone is basically fighting over them.
#HeadOverHeels #CharacterCorner #Auditions