TheatreMcLean plans LGBTQ+ musical

Spring production “Head Over Heals” integrates LGBTQ+ themes

TheatreMcLean has begun promoting its upcoming musical, Head Over Heels, with the Instagram hashtags #mcleangotthebeat and #highlanderoverheels. The department’s annual spring musical will feature LGBTQ+ themes and a mélange of classical and contemporary elements throughout the show, which will run from April 28 to May 1.

“The story is based on Philip Sidney’s [The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia], which has to do with mistaken identities and prophecy,” TheatreMcLean director Phillip Reid said. “It’s super fun⁠—it’s an old school story mixed with contemporary music.”

Although it is set in a historical time period, the show will have modern twists.

“We want it bright, big and large, while keeping it minimalistic because it’s a musical,” Reid said.

Head Over Heels was a ground breaking production when it debuted on Broadway in 2018, as it was the first show with a transgender woman in a leading role. TheatreMcLean’s adaptation will also defy gender expectations.

“With our ensemble roles, we are mixing up our classical gender outfits for people,” said senior Erin Sharpe, the assistant director. “We’re going to be putting some men in skirts and women in pants.”

The show ties LGBTQ+ themes into upbeat numbers, exclusively including music by the 1990s all-girl rock band The Go-Go’s and featuring modern main characters. The set itself will reflect the evolution of the characters.

“In the beginning, there will be old flags hung above the stage, and they’ll fall halfway through, replaced by new flags [to symbolize] the change in beliefs,” senior tech head J.T. Fulkerson said.

In order to represent queer-positive elements, Fulkerson and his crew will use captivating sets and colorful lighting.

“The lights will be bright and flashy, but slightly monochromatic,” Fulkerson said. “As the show progresses, the colors will slowly blend with the colors from the pride flag. This will be especially prominent [during the scene] on the island of Lesbos.”

In addition to representing the LGBTQ+ community, the design will be heavily influenced by Enlightenment-era Europe.

“[For the royal family,] we incorporate a lot of French aspects, including their huge gowns.” said junior Kyrsten Lewey, head of costume designer. “There are a lot of Greek embroidery in the arm and color pieces.”

Aside from vibrant designs, the musical will include costumes and makeup inspired by RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“We have various colorful designs that are super over the top,” sophomore co-makeup head Valentina Sedan said. “[Tech crew] has complete creative freedom over designs, and [we collaborate] with the other crews so that the style and color palette match.”

For this musical, each of the characters has a distinct personality that will be reflected through their clothing, hair, and makeup styles.

“We want to show the breadth of diversity that is this fictional kingdom,” Sharpe said. “We’re going to try to insert little bits and pieces of pride flags [within the design of the play].”

The cheerful music of The Go-Go’s and the little details the drew incorporates throughout the production will help weave the characters and their changing mindsets together.

“I love that we get to create looks that represent different characters’ personalities,” Sedan said. “It is a really fun process putting our creative work together.”