A musical featuring music from an all girl 80’s rock band, set in 16th Century Ancient Arcadia, exploring age old sexual, gender, appearance, power, and identity issues from multiple perspectives via a love hectagon using carefully and beautifully articulated prose (a really, really impressive range of vocabulary is employed throughout the show) all in one kicky, winsome, bold, intelligent, clever, topical and frothy fun show… I give you Head over Heels on Broadway.
Now this is not just any all girls 80’s rock band… this is The Go-Go’s…the band that provided the soundtrack of my (and possibly your?) teenage years. Must confess I wanted to be Belinda Carlisle and if Musical.ly had existed then, it would have been my go to soundtrack. Alas, I had but my mirror to croon to – retro! This music, with hits like “We’ve got the Beat” “Vacation” “Our Lips are Sealed” and “Mad About You” (are these ringing a bell?), is of the chick lit variety. The Go-Go’s remain, to this day, the only all female band that wrote their own music and played their own instruments to EVER top the billboard charts.
My love for the Go’Go’s admittedly had been dormant, but was instantly re-ignited within steps of the theater where the music was blaring from outdoor speakers. My face and heart had their own literal knee jerk reactions and prompted an immediate satisfied grin on my face and a flutter in my heart. To have my teenage daughter exclaim, “Oh I didn’t know that song was by The Go-Go’s,” further widened my smile and prompted a giant spontaneous hug from me. Such a fun experience to be re-united with your teenage music crush with your teenage daughter by your side. She is lobbying hard to make this a family matinee for the theater group.
I agree with her that most teenage kids should see the show, but parents would need to go in with their eyes wide open knowing the aforementioned cavalcade of topics that will be corralled on stage. Each and every topic is a worthy talking point which is thoughtfully and at times hilariously explored. For instance “Mad About You” gets transitioned to “Mad About They” towards the end of the show in recognition of a key character’s gender non-binary stance. Some parents might bristle at the thought of this, but then these are probably the parents who should see the show the most. Art exploring life is always a worthy use of one’s time and bandwidth. Hmmm….
I want to see Head over Heels again just to further explore the complex language woven by a genius linguist that was articulated so easily by the talented cast and, well, the music. Oh the music! Shows where a story is strung together via a pre-ordained set of lyrics can sometimes be hokey and forced – but not here. I thought the songs most definitely worked within the layered and farcical story line and enhanced rather than distracted from the telling of so many character’s tales. (I am guessing we have the brilliant Music Supervisor/Orchestrator/Arranger to thanks for this).
The music of my teenage years is just as infectious and heartwarming today as it was back then. I am definitely putting The Go-Go’s on my Pandora and plan to listen to it all summer long. Thank goodness for music and memories and brave Broadway teams that tell stories that need to be heard and felt and considered and applauded. Grab your Group and GO-GO to Head over Heels on Broadway!
Side note: The Hudson Theatre is one of my most favorite theaters on Broadway. They give you your wine in a proper glass and the welcoming lobby is a great way to kick off the evening.
Note to the People in charge of Theater Goer Experience: Keep playing The Go-Go’s music during intermission and blare the same music in the bathrooms. For some reason it switched to Madonna during intermission and in the bathroom they were playing disco. I think this is a missed opportunity for further unleashing those latent Go-Go’s love tendencies and to create and foster new a Go-Go fan base.
Note to the producers: The loosely choreographed bows were creative and endearing, but the audience didn’t get that this was the time for them to STAND UP and applaud until the very end. Maybe this is deliberate, but I thought an opportunity was lost for ending the evening with everyone on their feet for the last few minutes of the show vs. the last few seconds of the show when the band is revealed. Maybe a re-working of the sequence of the final bows could ameliorate this?