This past Thursday, Hinman Production Company (HPC) kicked off their fall musical, “Head Over Heels” in the Nelson A. Rockefeller Collegiate Center. “Head Over Heels” is a romantic comedy about love and a journey of self-discovery. Set in Arcadia, the musical takes viewers through the royal family’s adventure to save their kingdom from extinction. King Basilius meets with the Prophecy to discover the fate of Arcadia, along with his own. Not liking what he hears, he lies to Queen Gynecia and the rest of his family, causing a chaotic spiral of events that lead to the King’s self-reflection, discovering what it truly takes to save the Kingdom.
Allison Sanel, the music director of the show and a senior majoring in theatre, further elaborated on the plot and what “Head Over Heels” is truly all about.
“The message of the show is incredibly important and heartwarming,” Sanel wrote in an email. “If there’s one thing I want everybody to take away from ‘Head Over Heels,’ it’s that love is a gift that can be experienced in so many different ways.”
The title “Head Over Heels” truly speaks for itself. This rom-com musical is an expression of falling in love unapologetically and being comfortable in your own skin. The budding romances between Musidorus and Philoclea, and Pamela and Mopsa, along with the rekindling love we see between the King and the Queen, successfully tugged at the heartstrings of the audience.
The plot and musical numbers were enhanced through the set design. Although the set remained simple throughout the entirety of the show, several props were introduced during the musical including suitcases, a tree and a bed to further elaborate the scenes.
The musical centered around music from the all-female rock band, The Go-Gos. Many of their hit songs were featured, including “We Got the Beat,” “Vacation” and “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” Vibrant, upbeat songs and dances remained a constant throughout the musical, keeping the audience engaged and excited.
Sanel described her experience as “Head Over Heels” music director.
“I’ve music directed two other times before, one with HPC, and ‘Head Over Heels’ has been my favorite experience to date,” Sanel wrote. “Everybody I’ve worked with on this show has been an absolute joy to see every week. Plus I got the opportunity to play guitar two in the pit band, which is something I’ve never done before and am nervous but also crazy excited about it.”
Briana Ibanez, actress who played Gynecia and a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, described her experience of being one of the main characters in “Head Over Heels.”
“As an actor I am so so glad to have been surrounded by the most talented and welcoming people,” Briana wrote in an email. “The cast and crew of this show have been so kind and welcoming which allowed me the opportunity to be comfortable enough to be vulnerable with my acting choices. This show has also been extremely fun because I was able to sing songs I’ve known forever like ‘We Got The Beat’ and ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ in a completely new context.”
Ibanez also shared her hopes for the audience.
“I really hope the message people can take home is a message of empathy and understanding,” Ibanez wrote. “I want them to take away the message that community is so important in times when people are struggling.”
Ibanez’s hopes for the audience came true. Ella Rauch, an audience member and a senior majoring in biology, described her experience seeing the show Thursday night.
“This is not my first time seeing an HPC show,” Rauch wrote in an email. “I love every show HPC does. They all have great humor and great chemistry with a good message. My favorite part of the musical was the song ‘Good Girl,’ and I also really enjoyed ‘Beautiful.’”
The interactive audience was met with a night of laughter, sadness and even audible gasps at the plot twists. The audience remained engaged until the very end of the play, when the cast received roaring applause and many standing ovations at their curtain call. The audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy the night of love and laughter that “Head Over Heels” and the HPC performed.