Get up and Go-Go to Kokandy’s Head Over Heels | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Get up and Go-Go to Kokandy’s Head Over Heels

A binary-busting love story weds a 16th-century romance and the music of the Go-Go’s.

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When the Go-Go's debuted the irresistibly catchy titular song in 1984, MTV was firmly in the era of the Video Vixen, that barely clad staple of the pop world usually seen gyrating in the background while the Top 40's overwhelmingly male rockers beat their guitars like phallic symbols. The all-female Go-Go's made their own space in this world, using anthemic, upbeat earworms to subvert the male gaze. Their music provides the bouncy through line to Head Over Heels, conceived by Jeff Whitty and adapted by James Magruder from Sir Philip Sidney's 16th-century romance The Arcadia. The plot draws from Shakespeare (about 60 percent The Taming of the Shrew, 20 percent each The Winter's Tale and As You Like It) and Greek myth (an oracle propels the plot). The result? A binary-busting love story that celebrates and spans the gender spectrum. In other words: almost 40 years later, the Go-Go's remain on the progressive, sex-positive, righteous side of history. In Kokandy's production, directors Derek Van Barham and Elizabeth Swanson craft a joyful ode to all-gender romance and sex. Music director Kyra Leigh turns the production into a party, making the most of a live five-piece band. Listen for leading players Bridget Adams-King, Caitlyn Cerza, and Deanalís Resto (playing princess sisters and a lady-in-waiting, respectively) and their sleeper powerhouse "Good Girl." The more expected showstoppers—"We've Got the Beat," "Cool Jerk," and "Mad About You" among them—are every bit as enticing. And Breon Arzell's irreverent, joyful choreography puts an exclamation point on the whole shebang.   v

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