'Head Over Heels' Cast Talks The Go-Go's Going Broadway: Listen
When news broke that a musical using the tunes of groundbreaking pop-punk group The Go-Go's would be coming to Broadway, most fans assumed the show would tell the story of the fierce fivesome's unlikely rise to pop stardom. But that show, Head Over Heels (open now at the Hudson Theatre), turned out to be anything but a typical jukebox musical: it uses The Go-Go's catalog as the score for an unorthodox tale of two princesses and their quests to find independence and love.
"It's tongue-in-cheek, but we never go into camp," says actor Andrew Durand, who plays the hapless Musidorus, a shepherd vying for one of the princesses' affections. "I think that's what makes it so charming." Durand, along with stars Bonnie Milligan (Pamela) and Alexandra Socha (Philoclea) stopped by for this week's episode of Billboard on Broadway podcast to chat about what makes Head Over Heels such a refreshing production, and why The Go-Go's provide the perfect songs.
"Their lyrics lend themselves to storytelling so well," Socha says, noting that hits like "Vacation" may sound sunny and fun but, upon closer listens, have greater depth. The band's cheerily rebellious spirit also melds well with the musical's forward-thinking bent. "It's always been progressive," Milligan says of the show, noting that in its earliest incarnations Head Over Heels dealt with subjects like gender fluidity and marriage equality. "A lot of our superfans are kids that identify as they/them and non-binary, and this is the first time they've had a story in the mainstream of entertainment speaking for them," Durand adds (Drag Race alum and Head Over Heels cast member Peppermint is the first transgender woman to originate a lead role on Broadway). "We have a story that families can come to together and learn together."
"And it's all celebratory and joyous," Socha says. "The whole journey of the show is everyone learning who their authentic self is and celebrating that."
None of the characters in Head Over Heels neatly fit into typical musical theater character tropes, and the trio agree that that's a good thing. Milligan (who's making her Broadway debut in the show) is winning raves playing a princess who happens to be plus-size -- a fact that's never central to her portrayal of a glamorous and ultra-confident young woman. "I never get to play the pretty girl, ever," Milligan says. "It's crazy how revolutionary the idea of body positivity is on the Broadway stage." Durand, too, finds that he's getting to play a different role from the ones in which he's usually cast. "I'm a goofball, so it's cool to play an ingenue-leading-loverman but still bring my sense of humor to it and be silly and not just a pretty boy," he says.
In their chat with host Rebecca Milzoff, the trio recall hanging out with the ladies of The Go-Go's throughout the development process, the time they got to perform in producer Gwyneth Paltrow's home, and more about Head Over Heels (the show's cast album, out on Sony Masterworks Broadway, is now available digitally and will be in stores Nov. 9).
#BillboardonBroadway is a weekly podcast devoted to all things musical theater and their overlap with pop music. Click here to subscribe to the #BillboardonBroadway podcast on iTunes, and let us know what you think on Twitter (@rebeccamilzoff) or by rating the podcast on iTunes.