Santa Barbara High School’s renowned theatre program is putting on the bold new musical Head Over Heels which just ended its run on Broadway this January for their fall show. Despite taking place in ancient Greece, Head Over Heels is truly a musical for our modern era. Filled with concepts of gender fluidity and sexual orientation, the show preaches unadulterated love for yourself and others. In contrast to its 16th century origin, the epic poem, Arcadia, the music is pulled from the catalog of 70’s all-female rock band, the Go-Go’s, featuring hits such as “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips are Sealed,” and, of course, “Head Over Heels.” The show is under the music direction of Sio Tepper and, in tribute to the Go-Go’s, will feature an all-female rock band right onstage. The music’s upbeat rhythmic drive and Gianna Burright’s exquisite choreography will keep your heart pumping throughout.
Head Over Heels follows the King of Arcadia, Basilius, played by senior heartthrob Carter Beaudette, as he learns that Arcadia may lose its famous “beat,” if they don’t change their rigid ways. Basilius takes his royal court, consisting of his wife Gynecia, played by Angela Zevallos, his daughters Pamela and Philoclea, played by Josie Gillingham and Adelia Hubbard, and their servants Dametas and Mopsa, played by Quinn Ferguson and Logan Fleming, into the Greek forest to subvert the prophecy. Additionally, the famous Oracle of Delphi is portrayed by Q Le, and Philoclea’s childhood love, the shepherd Musidorus is played by Ben Watkins. The large ensemble of twenty people provides a plethora of exuberance and fuels the musical’s numerous outstanding dance numbers.
Otto Layman, Santa Barbara High School’s dynamic theatre teacher in his 25th year at the school is, of course, directing this unique production. Layman described the energy of the show as “manic and joyous” with an “insistent beat and a clear voice.” SBHS’s Theatre Department is known for being on the cutting edge of musical theater, being the first high school to premiere both Matilda and Spamalot, and Layman is excited for how the themes and questions raised in Head Over Heels play into this vision. In the spirit of the show, the program will feature all cast and crew members’ preferred pronouns along with their names. Layman told me that the goal of this is “to honor and recognize the radical idea that self-identification is less oppressive than the narrow categories imposed by the majority—I am, therefore, I matter.” He hopes that the audience will leave the theater in disbelief that what they saw was produced by a high school, and knowing that SBHS theatre does not just talk about acceptance but lives it and flaunts it.
Head Over Heels will play November 8, 9, 15, and 16 at 7PM, and November 16 and 17 at 2PM. People of all gender identities, sexual orientations, and from all walks of life are invited to enjoy an outrageous, witty, fast-paced journey through ambiguous oracles, gender-fluid disguises, singing sheep, and ultimately self-acceptance, featuring the pop-rock hits of the 1970’s. As the musical’s opening number says: “Kids got the beat!”