Pasadena Playhouse is back in business and they’re literally throwing a party to celebrate through a Go-Go musical, Head Over Heels. The entire space has been completely re-imagined as an underground New York dance club filled with scaffolding, disco balls, dance platforms and glitter, baby, a lot of glitter. One is immediately taken aback when entering what were once theater seats in what is now a neon-lit hallway, through layers of golden mylar streamers and onto a dance floor. Part of the seating is on the Playhouse Stage, with more seating on the balcony and the rest of the audience standing / dancing on the dance floor itself in the middle of the action with a live band.
Then come the actors, who enter and exit on the scaffolding, running across the balcony and performing soliloquies from the stands in and among the audience. It’s clear from the first minute you have just joined a rave of a party with the drag queen Alaska 5000 presiding over it all. She plays Queen Gynecia and we are in the land of Arcadia, based on the story of Sir Philip Sidney, led by her husband, King Basilius. They have two daughters, the beautiful Pamela and the simple Philoclea. The king visits an oracle and hears the sad news that his daughters will be stolen, his wife will betray him and his throne will be usurped. When a handsome shepherd falls in love with Philoclea but disguises himself as an Amazonian warrior princess, the king and queen find themselves strangely drawn to “her” and mistaken identities and savage confusion ensue. Meanwhile, Pamela falls in love and a wonderful “gamer” walks us through it all.
The audience will remember George Salazar as Seymour in the Playhouse production of “Little Shop of Horrors”. Salazar is so captivating, you just want more of him every time he’s on stage and he has the audience rooted for his Shepherd right from the start. His interpretation of “Mad About You” breaks your heart and the duet cover is chilling. As soon as Alaska 5000 steps up the dance floor in the center of the stairs, the party begins. She’s in command as the haughty drama queen and kills the audience with every tongue-in-cheek action and the click of her high heels. Lea DeLaria chews landscapes and scats (!) As misogynist king and cigar smoker (of Queens?). Tiffany Mann as the self-absorbed Pamela powerfully sings “Beautiful” in a ponytail show stopper. Shanice Williams is formidable as the “simpler” but softer love interest of the Shepherd, Philoclea, and has a great chemistry with Salazar. Their romance is at the heart of the show, and it’s easy to take root for these two.
Emily Skeggs is serious as a Mopsa maid while Freddie lends her sultry voice to the mysterious Oracle. And blessing us all with his magnificent dance, Yurel Echezarreta as a player.
It’s an evening of pure joy and pop-rock fantasy with the music of The Go-Go vibrating through this wacky and heartfelt adventure. So if âVacationâ is all you’ve ever wanted right now, then head over to the Playhouse where âHeaven is a place on Earthâ and don’t worry, âOur lips are sealedâ!
Crazy in Love kicks off the 2021-2022 Playhouse season until December 12. Tickets start at $ 30 and are available at pasadenaplayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-7529, and at the box office at 39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101.