Diversionary Theatre Stages "Head Over Heels" and it Surely has "The Beat"

The Talented Cast Rounds Out the Production that Guarantees Laughs and a Darn Good Time 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Kevin Phan Alyssa Junious Sutheshna Mani. Photo Simpatika

Sometimes it is hard when theatre pieces have prose or Shakespearian words as it is complex to follow. In the case of Diversionary's Head Over Heels, a musical conceived by Jeff Whitty and adapted by James Magruder with the plot also adapted from the prose The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney, this fairytale where a royal family journeys to save their beloved kingdom of Arcadia from extinction, was easy to navigate.

Gerilyn Brault. Photo by Simpatika
Queen Gynecia (Amanda Naughton) and King Basilius (Scott Ripley) are looking for a suiter for the eldest daughter, Princess Pamela (Gerilyn Brault) while the youngest daughter Philoclea (Adelida Martinez) has already found her match in the shepherd Musidorous (Joey Kirkpatrick). They started as friends and the love blossomed even though they are not from the same tier, Philoclea does not care until the queen discovers them and forbids the romance. Pamela does not like anybody and is infatuated with her beauty, as is her right-hand Mopsa (Lauren King Thompson) daughter of the King's right-hand Dametas (Berto Fernández). The Royals find out Arcadia will no longer be and they will see it via three signs delivered by witch Pythio (Faith Carrion). Love triangles are revealed as previous love is rekindled, identities are defined while the three signs come as well as acceptance and a happy ending that for a moment seemed like a tragedy.

Berto Fernández. Photo by Simpatika
The colorful production is fun and charming playing to the beat of The Gogo's musical catalog along with other 80s music displaying a wonderful and harmonic sound design by Harper Justus. The sisters played by Gerilyn Brault and Adelida Martinez display amazing, melodic voices. Brault is hilarious and Martinez is sweet, while struggling with her mic in the opening night performance, her voice still came through as it has range. Those outfits were my favorite as Elisa Benzoni's costume design is very 80s with a renaissance flare showing detail and originality. 
It is always inspiring to see San Diego's young and upcoming talents go from one stage to the next showcasing their abilities. I last saw Adelaida as Nina in SDMT's production of In The Heights in 2022. Same with Berto Fernández who surprises audiences from one role to the next with amazing, diverse portrayals. 

As it is complex to produce a musical with live music due to costs and logistics, it is noteworthy and applause-worthy to point out that Diversionary's production has musicians playing live onstage with Patrick Marion in charge of the musical direction. Justin Humphres's set design is compact and functional using the space well so the actors can flow along the colorful fringes that pop thanks to Joel Britt's lighting design that is bright and revealing to all the key moments in the plot. Some of those moments dressed with sword fights that went smoothly and were mighty thanks to fight choreographer, Jacob Bruce, as well as the intimacy direction of Kandae Crystal. 

Adelaida Martinez Joey Kirkpatrick. Photo by Simpatika
Faith Carrion is great as Pythio bringing a dose of mysticism and flow to the performance. Amanda Naughton's Queen Gynecia is naughty and fun making the character very relatable and a delight to watch. Same with Joey Kirkpatrick who is the shepherd but then has to crossdress in order to find his beloved and becomes the love interest of many. Lauren King Thompson as Mopsa is beautiful and tender. Alyssa Kane as always, brought it with the props Design which this production needs as the different pieces highlight the clues to the story and compliment ensemble members Sutheshna Mani, Kevin Phan, and Alyssa "Ajay" Junious who displays some mean dancing moves on the stage as well as being the associate choreographer to choreographer Katie Banville.

This is a production that has everything: live music, dance, fluorescent colors, comedy, drama, suspense, flare, and emotion. The challenging task was certainly resolved by directors Stephen Brotebeck and Matt M.Morrow who bring it home with a bang. So resolved, that due to popular demand the show has been extended until June 25. For more information on performance times and ticket prices please click here.

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