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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Performance Review: ‘Head Over Heels’: A warm, welcome flame of queer joy in this miserable world

Photo by Shirley Liu for The Lafayette
The plot of ‘Head Over Heels’ is set in motion when the oracle Pythio (pictured) gives the royal family of Arcadia a prophecy that will determine the fate of their ‘Beat.’

Fans of ’80s pop-rock, rejoice! As a part of their 2022-23 production season “Walking in Time,” the Lafayette theater department is showing its rendition of “Head Over Heels,” a jukebox musical featuring music and lyrics by the Go-Go’s.

In case you’ve never seen “Head Over Heels,” imagine if the royal family went on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and constantly belted out hits by the Go-Go’s. Also, everyone’s gay. Now, if that sounds like a surreal experience, multiply the imagined absurdity by about 100 and you’ll have a sense of what it’s like to watch “Head Over Heels.”

Don’t get me wrong: the weirdness isn’t a bad thing at all. It actually makes this one of the most entertaining shows I’ve seen during my time at Lafayette. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled or laughed as hard as when I was watching the cast and ensemble dance, clap and sing their ways across the stage in technicolor tutus.

“Head Over Heels” tells the story of Arcadia’s royal family as they try not to lose their “Beat.” I would tell you more about the plot, but I don’t think that’s what’ll convince you to go see the show. Instead, if Shakespearean cross-dressing, sassy nonbinary oracles and chaotic sapphism appeal to you, then you won’t want to miss this production.

This production of “Head Over Heels” is directed by theater professor Mary Jo Lodge. Lodge chose to direct the musical partly because she liked how it explores themes of gender.

“We have so many students who have never seen themselves represented,” Lodge said. The musical unabashedly features nonbinary, genderfluid and lesbian characters, and this radically queer outlook is a refreshing change of pace from Lafayette’s usual shows, which are either aggressively heterosexual or only explore LGBTQ themes on a superficial level.

“Head Over Heels” also features a female-heavy cast, and Lodge said this was important since there are so many “great women” in the theater department. I have to concur because the cast is absolutely electric.

Although the cast is fantastic in itself, the chemistry they have with one another really elevates the show. My favorite numbers of the show are the duets, where the audience gets the opportunity to watch the dynamics between the cast members stretch taut and snap back with all the bite and quickness of a rubber band.

Alex Thurtle ‘24 and Riley O’Connor ‘26 radiate star-strong warmth and brightness as Philoclea and Musidorus, respectively. Their renditions of “Mad About You” are so sweet that I felt like my teeth might rot from cavities just by watching.

Pamela and Mopsa, played by Ella Teitsch ‘23 and Jessie Gadaleta ‘26 respectively, are the messy lesbians that I wish could be in every musical I watch — or, let’s be real, every piece of media I consume. Their duet of “Automatic Rainy Day” honestly puts t.A.T.u. to shame.

Chris Taverner ‘25 and Gabby Kapinka ‘23 as the king and queen of Arcadia are at once regal and riotous, especially during their hilariously haunting duet of “Heaven Is a Place on Earth.” I would be remiss if I did not mention Benry James ‘25 as Pythio, who felt like every drag queen I’ve ever loved combined.

Ella Teitsch ’23 plays Pamela, the vain eldest sister of Arcadia’s royal family. (Photo by Shirley Liu)

Another highlight of the musical is the outrageously fun choreography. According to Christie Chahwan ‘23, a choreographer of the show alongside Lodge, the production had to take into account the unique structure of the Weiss Theater when coming up with the choreography. Audiences can sit on three of the stage’s four sides in the theater, meaning the choreography would have to look appealing to people on all three of those four sides.

The dancing is dynamic and joyful, filling up every inch of the small stage and dropping the audience straight into the colorful world of Arcadia. It can’t be easy to synchronize a stageful of people’s clapping and footwork, and I’m impressed with what this production accomplished in that aspect.

I could go on, but the most important thing is that “Head Over Heels” is just a really, really, really fun time. In a time when the lives and rights of LGBTQ folks are constantly under attack, it’s important to revel in the energy and chaos of pure queer joy, and believe me when I promise “Head Over Heels” is just the show for that.

“Head Over Heels” will be showing tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., as well as on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available for sale at

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About the Contributor
Shirley Liu, Managing Editor
Shirley Liu manages, edits, and manages edits.

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  • J

    Jack KapankaNov 11, 2022 at 3:23 pm

    Gabby Kapanka (the Queen) is our daughter. We’re so proud of her. Thank you so much for this wonderful review. It’s tough being 800 miles away.