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BWW Review: Lyric Theatre's got the beat with HEAD OVER HEELS

Lyric Theatre returns to indoor performances at The Plaza with jukebox musical Head Over Heels

BWW Review: Lyric Theatre's got the beat with HEAD OVER HEELS

Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma returns to their indoor performance space in the Plaza District to present Head Over Heels. Loosely based on The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney, Head Over Heels is a 2015 jukebox musical that features the music of iconic girl group The Go-Gos. This mashup works oddly well, and the iambic pentameter blends smoothly with eighties new wave in this addictively fun musical.

The kingdom of Arcadia is full of silly people who don't have much thought in their heads, but they look good and that's really all that matters. When a mysterious Oracle makes a prophecy that means the certain demise of their kingdom, the King and his royal family embark on a journey to save the day and prove the prophecy wrong.

Vince Leseney is King Basilius, and Mandy Jiran is Queen Gynecia. The royal family is made up of Alyssa Peters as Pamela and Sierra Sikes as Philoclea. Sabrina Brush is Pamela's ladies' maid Mopsa, and Nick Hone is her father Dametas. Seth Paden is loyal shepherd boy Musidorus, and Sheridan McMichael is the mysterious Pythio.

The original casting calls for sixteen people, but director Michael Baron has pared it down to eight players on stage. They work hard to create a full musical and the modified casting works well. Leseney and Jiran are both venerated, accomplished performers. They lead the cast and have as much fun as anyone else on stage, if not more. Paden is adorable and loyal as Musidorus. He's love struck and true, and when his characterization takes a turn, Paden really lets his hair down. Peters is regal and proud as Pamela. Her journey is more soul-searching and revelatory than geographic. Sikes is kind and warm as Philoclea. She has lovely chemistry with Paden, and they're truly meant to be. Brush is a strong diva as Mopsa. She's a proud woman and knows what she brings to the table. Nick Hone is supportive and patient throughout all the shenanigans. McMichael steals the show as Pythio. Pythio brings the house down with their vocals and rains their mysterious prophecy down over the royal family.

The show is fun and funny, with sight-gags and a bit of fourth-wall breaking. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and therefore neither do the actors on stage. They're all having fun and it's clear that everyone, audience and actor alike, is just glad to be back on an indoor stage without masks and strict protocols.

Scenic designer Deb Sivigny adds nods to iconic architecture in Oklahoma, including the Copper Dome, the Pops bottle, and the Blue Whale of Catoosa. These real-life fixtures make the fairytale land of Arcadia seem not so far away. The design team at Lyric wanted to create a magical world- in Arcadia, OK. It's a fun addition that makes the return to the Plaza feel even more inviting.

The all-female band (minus the drummer) adds to the girl-group vibe of the music, and they rock out for the entire ninety minutes. Music director/Keyboard is Reagan Casteel. She leads James Metcalfe on drums, Audrey Oden and Rebekah Stafford on guitar, and Taylor Yancey on bass. They're as fun to watch as the cast, and their costumes are colorful and on-theme with the show.

Speaking of costumes, resident costume designer Jeffrey Meek has outdone himself. Together with wigs by Brawna Gfeller, the look of the characters on stage is colorful, vibrant, and opulent. It's somewhere between Oz and a candy shop, and it's simply mood lifting to watch.

Though the show is fun and lighthearted, something must be mentioned about the message within. Head Over Heels features non-binary characters, gender-bending, and same sex couples. Its not-so-subtle message of acceptance and normalizing ideas of non-traditional gender expression is beautiful and welcome. It doesn't poke fun of gender or those who identify outside the binary. Head Over Heels is almost like a less erratic, more inclusive and updated version of The Rocky Horror Show. It's just as fun, just as naughty, and leaves the audience feeling amused and happy. Where other gender and sexuality inclusive shows fall short, this one succeeds in incorporating those themes without judgment or stigma. In fact, these characters are even celebrated. It's the true beauty of this show.

Head Over Heels runs through April 30, 2022 at Lyrics Plaza Theatre. Tickets are available at lyrictheatreokc.com.


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