by guest writer Audrey Rinkoski (HOH choreographer) Photo credits: Joan Marcus
When you’re opening a new musical fresh off of Broadway —that’s never even been performed in Minnesota— one question gets asked more than anything: What’s this show about?
I suppose the “elevator pitch” is: this Shakespearean-inspired script tells the story of King Basilius, his family, and the royal subjects of Arcadia, a land famous for the steady Beat by which they all live. He forces his spoiled eldest daughter to select a husband from a pool of ridiculous suitors; barely remembers he has a younger daughter until she wants to marry someone poor; and packs up all his royal subjects on a journey through the wilderness in order to avoid the tides of change prophesied by an Oracle. What follows is a hilarious caper of epic proportions, complete with love triangles, mistaken identities, sword-play, and self-discovery. Will the King be able to save the realm’s precious Beat before it’s too late? Dun-dun-duuuuun!
But…it’s way more than that.
Head Over Heels is a cautionary tale of a King who’s patriarchal and inflexible rule was so exclusionary and rooted in the past that his kingdom dwindled to nothing. It’s about how you cannot govern a people that you refuse to acknowledge exist, let alone value.
It’s a story about how you cannot control free-willed human beings to be, do, say, act, and feel exactly according to your will. It’s about the misery, fear, tyranny, and ultimate downfall that results from societies that try.
It’s about bravery and courage to stand up for the truth. How not a single one of the 8 billion human beings on earth are exactly the same except for their birthright to human dignity. It’s about identity, and not apologizing for how you were born, or what you were born into. It's about the liberty to be exactly who you are, and the bridges that are built instead of burnt when people are free.
It’s about love. That no matter how hard you try, love is not a man-made social construct of rules to follow. It’s an emotion. A feeling, like happiness, anger, fear, excitement, sadness. It’s about how emotions are experienced universally, no matter a person's abilities, how much money they have, what they wear, what they do for a living, where they live, or what color their skin is. It’s about having agency over your own life, especially when it comes to choosing a partner. It's about loving and being loved unconditionally.
Head Over Heels is about the societal harmony and successes that come from celebrating the human right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…
…wrapped in the classic Shakespearean-comedy fashion of forbidden love and disguises, punk-Elizabethan formal wear, a rainbow of hairstyles, and Go-Go’s rock music. You know, like you do. And in a classic Hallmark movie twist that you never saw coming, turns out that the loves of their lives were in front of everyone’s faces all along! It’s pretty much the best, brightest, funniest, most vibrant, rock-n-rolliest, head-boppingest entertainment Rochester has had since ever. Got your tickets yet?