Kokandy Productions’ HEAD OVER HEELS just extended through September 8th — marking the end of a four month journey to Arcadia! Co-director Elizabeth Swanson takes a look back at the rehearsal process, the hit show, and all the quirks that made this artistic vacation so special…
Hey Elizabeth — tell us about you!
Most labels have never sat easy with me, but one label I’ve always been happy to wear is ‘theater director.’ I think it’s because directing is a vocation, not an identity. I feel so fortunate to have a trade – something I’ll spend the rest of my life learning and working to master. The most exciting part of directing for me is finding ways to clarify and accentuate characters’ journeys over the course of a play. And it’s a wonderful reminder that everyone has the capacity for change and growth.
And how about Head Over Heels?
**Bill Hader’s Stefon cups hands over mouth**
This show has EVERYTHING. Singing, dancing, Uriel Gomez’s drag-chic costumes, sword fighting, love making, references to the Marvel universe, (okay, one reference to the Marvel universe), pissing sfx, iambic pentameter, Liz Norton, a sheep chorus line, and that one Go-Go’s song that you didn’t think you knew but you totally know.
Added bonus: debates at the bar afterwards about how this show is – or is not – basically Mamma Mia.
Did you have any specific inspirations when creating this world? Any touchstones or references?
Derek and I had a phrase we kept repeating during the rehearsal process: ‘more is more.’ Where usually you’re trying to pair back and aim for subtlety, this show wants to be louder and brasher and, well, more. Whenever one of us started pitching an idea with, ‘okay, this is so stupid, but…’ that’s usually what we did.
Do you have a favorite song or moment the show? If so, do tell why!
My favorite song in the show is definitely “Good Girl.” Princess Philocea is so scared to take up space and so desperate for approval. She sings that all she wants “is for everyone to love me!” But over the course of the song she realizes how unhealthy this desire is. Her realization sparks a journey of self discovery, and Philoclea emerges in the final scene no longer a ‘good girl’ but a woman who’s strong enough to be brave and vulnerable. And Caitlyn Cerza, the actor who plays Philoclea, just completely nails every moment.
What makes Head Over Heels special?
Head Over Heels teaches us that to be your best self you must be your truest self. By following our passions openly and honestly, we gain greater capacities for leadership and forgiveness, kindness and empathy. But the best thing about Head Over Heels is that it manages to explore this beautiful message without being at all didactic. Instead, the musical sweeps you along a rosé wave of queer, frothy joy. What’s not to love?
Head Over Heels has been extended, and is now playing through September 8th! Don’t miss your chance to enjoy Elizabeth’s work, and see the hottest musical in Chicago this summer! Get tickets HERE!