DMACC and Grand View make audiences go “Head Over Heels”

Photo Courtesy DMACC Theatre

By Kaylynn Bousman, special to the Chronicle

“Head Over Heels,” originally by Jeff Whitty and adapted by James Magruder, is a jukebox musical featuring exclusively music by The Go-Go’s. The musical was showcased here in the DMACC Black Box Theatre as well as at the Grand View Viking Theatre from the end of March into early April. There were eight shows including an ASL-interpreted show on Saturday, April 6.

According to the producer, Professor Carl Lindberg, who is also the head of the Drama Department here at DMACC, this isn’t the first collaboration with Grand View, having previously done Laura Jacqmin’s “Ghost Bike.”

Back in 2018, the two colleges had smaller departments, and working together “was a good way to allow us to produce a bigger cast show.”

Carl and Director Kristin Larson, the Program Chair of Grandview’s Theater Department, came together again for “Head Over Heels” this year to not only have a larger cast opportunity but also to expand the show’s budget. Choosing the musical itself fell onto the shoulders of our Resident Technical Director here at DMACC, Krister Strandskov. Krister brought up the musical in passing when trying to figure out which show to do. The production team liked it for various reasons but, in the words of Carl, “a good ol’ fashioned read a bunch of plays led us to this production.”

Photo Courtesy DMACC Theatre

Along the way, there were some challenges for the cast and crew but also some great moments as well. While interviewing some members of the production, a common memory they were all fond of was watching Joey Brevik’s character Musidorus/Cleophila rehearse his improvised dance to “This Old Feeling” sung by Basilius, played by Grand View’s Isaac Bleich-Sisco, and Gynecia, played by Anika Ernst.

Grand View student Katy Crowley, who plays Pythio, said, “I loved how we all would gather on the sides of the stage to watch him do his dance.”

Brevik, 19, is a first year student at DMACC pursuing his Associate of General Studies Transfer degree on a path to Drake University. With five years of theater experience, it is no surprise that this man captured the hearts of both his cast/crew and the audience.

Attending both openings on Monday, March 25, and Wednesday, April 3, both audiences were packed and thoroughly loved every minute of this bubbly musical. Every DMACC showing was sold out before the April opening night even after Production and Lighting Designer Rachel Trimble added more seating. The entire cast did amazing, were full of talent and came dressed to impress.

Photo Courtesy DMACC Theatre

During my interview, I spoke with Grand View’s Costume Designer Ella Miner about the struggles behind the scenes of having such an extravagant production with many unique and layered costume pieces. One of the signs of a great team behind you as an actor is when onstage errors go unnoticed by your audience. Ella and their costume team, including UNI graduate Megan Gilchrist and Grand View’s Amber Swinehart, had a decent amount of damage control to do with the quick changes and active choreography.

One main moment Ella discussed with me was the sweater worn by ensemble member Ayden Frisk during the scene with the golden stag. Quick changes sometimes lead to quick fixes. In this case, Ella mentioned how his sweater “had a hole from the elbow through the armpit down to half of his torso that I had to stitch up.” This happened during the opening at DMACC, which I personally attended, and went unnoticed each of the following nights that I had friends in attendance. Props to the crew for being on top of onstage mishaps and helping the show carry on at peak performance.

The actual show itself was an all-around fun time, even with the serious moments sprinkled in. Lots of jokes, quirky dances, and fun design concepts brought it all together. I was dancing in my seat the whole time.

Photo Courtesy DMACC Theatre

I have a few favorite moments, like Ayden wearing a “My Job Is Beach” shirt during “Vacation,” an amazing choice made by the designer, Megan. But, my favorite scene personally was the sheep during “Mad About You.” The ensemble bumbled around and “baaa’d” the background vocals in a cute and humorous manner. The audience was floored with laughter especially with the kickline added. Choreographer, Michael Tomlinson really knows how to get your feet moving and shake up the scenes.

A few shoutouts from those I interviewed go out to Intimacy Directory Stephanie Schneider and the Stage Management team Dylan Delagardelle and Assistant Stage Manager Emma Dahle. Stephanie really made the cast feel comfortable with the intimacy on stage according to Joey and Jackie whose characters shared many intimate moments including kissing. Dylan and Emma were raved about in the interview for being there for the cast not just because it was their job, but because they actually cared.

From the bonds backstage to the glorious production put on, this musical really had everyone engaged in “Head Over Heels.”

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