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Head Over Heels

Published on
Jun 19, 2022
Written by
Peyton Mott
Published by
Aisling Gogan
Edited by
Lannii Layke

In a three way zoom call between myself, Haylee Thompson beaming through the camera, and Grace Johnson and Jake Zanth, casually lounging on the floor of Grace's apartment; between minor WIFI disconnections, we get greeting in.

Hey! It’s great to see you all, thanks for being here!

Haylee: Of course! We’re so excited to share about our production!

Finally, the typical technological difficulties subside and the conversation focuses towards the excitement of X Musical Theatre Company’s production of Head Over Heels, a jukebox musical constructed around the iconic musical group, The GoGos.

It’s great to meet you all, I’d love to hear a bit about yourselves, your characters in Head Over Heels, and maybe a dream role of yours!

Grace: Well, I’m Grace! I am a second year in. I play Princess Pamela, a confident, dramatic, and entitled queer princess. I think my dream role would have to be anyone from Rent, all of the characters are so interesting.

Jake: Hey, I’m Jake. I am a first year in Creative Industries, and I play Dametas. He is Mopsa’s father — strict, but with a fun side. For a dream role I would have to go with...

He trails off and adds a pause—perhaps to add dramatic effect.

Jake: Yeah, Sweeney Todd, something scary.

Haylee: I’m Haylee, I am a third year in Media Production! I am one of the Co-Directors of the show this year! If I could be any character it would probably be Sally from Cabaret.

Haylee, as one of the Co-Directors, why was this show important do perform?

Haylee: After the unprecedented year that was COVID-19, we wanted to do something bright, fun, and high energy—Head Over Heels is all of that. It’s light hearted but the characters are so big and vibrant; the show is about love and finding yourself and we all wanted to do a production that would make you feel warm inside.

What was the process of each of you getting involved in the show?

Grace: I had never done theater before, but I saw at the XU orientation fair there was an XMTC booth and noticed the show this year was Head Over Heels. As a huge Broadway fan, I thought Head Over Heels was a unique choice. Honestly, I originally thought it was only open to musical theatre students, but I ended up sending in a tape and... here we are! I always wanted to perform, so this has been an amazing experience.

Jake: I didn’t even know it existed until my roommate asked why I wasn’t auditioning; it ended up being the last few days to submit an audition tape, so without knowing what the show was, I sent in a tape as well!

Haylee: I’ve been a part of XMTC since my first year in 2019! My favorite part of the company, from my experience, is to meet up with people with the same passions and create a wonderful community. What makes me want to come back is that passion and drive from that community. I love hearing these stories and knowing we have a voice to share them!

What have you all missed from live theater, and what are you looking to get back to with this?

All three let out sounds similar to a mix between ironic laughs and dramatic sighs.

Jake: When the pandemic first hit, I was at rehearsal for my high school play and suddenly it was two years later. It is really exciting to open back up, it’s a huge part of mine and other people's lives!

Grace: I’ve always been a theater fan, I even picked coming to school in Toronto to also experience the city’s theatre life, but I’ve missed that with COVID. I’m so glad this year that not only am I getting to see shows, I’m finally in one!

Haylee: I honestly, just cannot wait to sit in the audience and feel the buzzing energy, I think the audience will be excited for that too.

This show, to me, seems much like a camp version of Shakespeare’s Midsommer Night’s Dream?

This is met with a resounding and enthusiastic, “Yes!” from all.

Grace: That’s been our word for this show!

Glad to hear I’m on the right track! I know the message is a lot deeper than the aesthetics though, how do you keep the message coming across with that same over the top aesthetic?

Grace: there's a lot of heartfelt moments in such a funny show, we like to take the time to delve into those moments instead of making a mockery of them seriously, we get to portray topics of sexuality and gender in an uplifting positive way.

Haylee, as one of the Co-Directors, aesthetically speaking what went into the costuming and set pieces?

Haylee: We really wanted to incorporate that camp, over the top look as we were saying before.The aesthetics are one of the most fun elements to the show! We also have some amazing set pieces including a giant snake…

She leans into the camera to tell me the inside scoop,

Haylee: Honestly, at first we had no idea how it was going to fit within the space of the show, but it worked out wonderfully.

Grace, Pamela is defined by her outward perception and beauty, how do u think they develop her character?

Grace: I think she has been so defined by that confidence and beauty she portrays, so when she finally has to grapple with her difficult feelings for Mopsa, Dametas’ daughter, for the first time she really struggles with it. It’s hard to come to terms when she’s always been perfect princess Pamela. I love playing her though, her character arc is so interesting. Coming to rehearsal and having to sing a song called Beautiful, it can be hard; she’s taught me a lot about myself and it's helped me work on confidence and with an amazing cast and crew cheering me on.

Is there importance to her relationship with her sister, Philoclea?

Grace: Definitely! Pamela and her sister, Philoclea, definitely have an interesting relationship. You feel bad for Philoclea because she doesn't seem as worthy as Pamela; they have this heart to heart moment revealing that she, herself, is perfect and beautiful in her own way inside. It’s interesting because Pamela has to grapple with her sister getting something she can’t have.

Jake, you play Pamela’s love interest’s father Dametas, how does casting his wife out affect his relationship with Mopsa?

Jake: Mopsa is everything to Dameatas. Everything he does is to make sure she is okay, to make sure he knows where she is and in communication. When Pamela and Mopsa reveal their relationship he is so accepting and loving of her. As we later find out the Oracle character in the show is revealed to be his previously cast out wife—this reconnects the family. As the show goes on Dametas loses the part of him with binary and strict views, he gains this more open and accepting view to people, including his family. 

I love to hear the intricacies of the relationships between characters, how have you taken these characters and made them your own?

Jake: You can see what the professional actors do in their choices, but a lot of it is your own personal experiences. You add moments from your own life to understand these characters better.

Grace: Jake’s character is great, he’s got all the good ad libs!

Jake: ...Some chaos that’s what it is.

Haylee: And some screaming for sure!

Grace: For Pamela I had to dig deep, because I’m new to live theatre. I’ve thought in some way, Pamela may believe her outward beauty is quite fake and she’s truly insecure in her own ways.

The entire show is scored by GoGo's songs, correct?

Grace: Yes! I love them; they are iconic! I knew the GoGos before, and when I heard of this show—it seems so weird— but there are so many positive messages within it.

What's your favorite song to perform during the show?

Grace: Elle, who plays Mopsa, and I love Automatic Rainy Day because we both are just performing at the highest and just belting our hearts out. We’re both just loud and aggressive singers. It’s so fun,

I can almost see the pure energy bursting from Grace’s eyes as she abruptly lets out an animated sound.

Grace: Ugh! I love it!

Jake: The sound of those two performing is just amazing, but I’d say my favorite is

Get Up And Go, it’s a huge dance number.

Hailey: That’s a really tough question, mine often changes, but I think

This Old Feeling...

The silence fleets quickly as Haylee continues on.

Haylee: But I also love Get Up And Go

Haylee: ..... AND Automatic Rainy Day. It’s so hard there are too many good songs!

I have one last question for you all; since this show is a jukebox musical, are there any artists or albums you would like to see turned into a jukebox musical?

There is a pause; the three look to each other, as if to agree to let me in on a secret

Hayley: I was gonna say Taylor Swift to be honest

Jake and Grace both second that opinion in overlapping statements in agreement.

And that’s all the questions I have, thanks again for taking the time to chat with me about Head Over Heels!

Haylee: Of course, thanks so much for letting us!

Jake: I can’t wait for everyone to see the show, this has been awesome!

And just as the zoom call disconnects, the group leaves with final waves and an exciting picture of finally returning to live theatre.