If every jukebox musical were as in-your-face, no-nonsense and silly as this one, I wouldn’t hate them. Then again, there isn’t a jukebox musical quite like “Head Over Heels.” Part Go-Go’s concert, part seventeenth-century romance and part phantasmagorical fashion show, “Head Over Heels” is a love story we desperately need. While it has all the garment swapping of Shakespeare, at its heart this musical is enlightened. The characters not only find love outside of themselves, but within as well.
You’ve got your typical fairytale lot: the king, the queen, the daughters who need to find husbands, the courtiers and a magical oracle who confounds everyone and ends up being right in the end. You’ve got a quest to save the kingdom and a lot of breaking into song. You’ve got a formula that’s been done to death, but those stories don’t have what this show has: Parker Guidry as a non-binary-plural oracle whose looks could kill; Breon Arzell’s body-bending, binary-smashing choreography; Uriel Gomez’s costumes capable of slaying way more than the local dragon; and enough stage talent to scare “The Winter’s Tale” bear right back into the woods. There is so much to smile about that it hurts after a while, but it’s a relief to have a reason for so much smiling.
“Head Over Heels” takes jukebox musicals, Disneyfied fairy tales and ye olde romance of yore, hammers them and creates a mosaic from the broken pieces that has a thousand times more impact than the originals. No one ever said the revolution couldn’t be funny. Or fierce. Or fashion-forward. So, lucky for us, we get all three. So many stories fall into the “Okay, but why now?” category that thinking about them in a wider context doesn’t seem necessary. Not only does “Head Over Heels” deserve consideration, it demands it. As we burrow deeper and deeper into a self-destructive political ideology, we need stories like this. We need work that distracts us from the perpetual dumpster fire of strife and also heartens us to fight on. This imaginative, boot-stomping, queer musical is one huge leap forward.
Don’t like same-sex couples? Gender fluidity? Throuples? Non-binary? Matriarchy? Breaking down tropes that have been lodged in the theatrical canon since the dawn of time? Maybe get a new hobby.
If you appreciate all of those things and revel in changing tides, run to “Head Over Heels.” (Amanda Finn)
Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit, 1229 West Belmont, (773) 975-8150, kokandyproductions.com, $35-$40. Now through September 8.