The Curran has been a monumental theater for premiering new theater productions that have taken over Broadway on many occasions. In fact, did you know the first production of WICKED was performed at the Curran in 2003?
Now, after a beautiful building renovation (trust us, it’s incredible!), the company is getting ready to present a laugh-out-loud world premiere musical called Head Over Heels featuring a top-notch cast, crew, and creators.
The musical was based on a long-form poem/play by Sir Philip Sidney called ‘The Arcadia’ in the 16th century. However, this rendition exists in a fantasy time period where you’ll see themes from the past and present making it feel rather current.
The story follows a royal family that must prevent an oracle’s prophecy of doom and it’s all set to the tunes of the 1980’s all-female rock band, The Go-Go’s.
In between rehearsals and costume fittings, we were lucky enough to grab some time with the amazing Jeremy Kushnier. You might know him from his show-stopping performances in Footloose (as the original Ren!), Rent (as Roger) Jersey Boys (as Tommy DeVito) or maybe by his catchy solos in Jesus Christ Superstar (as James the Lesser, Priest).
In Head Over Heels, he will be taking on the role of Basilius, the King of Arcadia who must protect his land and kingdom after receiving some threatening news from an Oracle about his land. Scroll below to find out why he is excited about this world premiere and how this is unique from the other productions that he has performed in.
Addict Insider: The Oracle is played by PEPPERMINT, the first trans woman to originate a principal role on Broadway – EVER!
Can you tell us about your character, King Basilius?
King Basilius is definitely a fun character to play. As the story picks up, he has been in his position of rank for some time and at one point he probably had a great drive as a leader. But now, he’s sort of relaxed and in the trappings of what it means to be a King. Let’s just say, he’s not really being the best that he could be. In a lot of ways, he’s kind of like your quintessential white guy driving down the highway who refuses to ask for directions or help. He has the best intentions but we know what they say about those problems. He definitely has room for improvement and hopefully, by the end you see him veering towards that.
I also have an AMAZING costume costumes (created by Arianne Phillips, see some her sketches above!)! Although they are sometimes quite heavy, they are gorgeous. I can’t wait for people to see them! Their minds are going to be blown. You honestly could do a full Vogue photo shoot just on the costumes…
What drew you to being a part of Head Over Heels?
It’s so exciting to be a part of a new work and getting the chance to work with Michael Mayer (best known for his creation of Spring Awakening, American Idiot, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch) This group is truly a dream team.
The cast is so tremendous and everyone comes from all different walks of life which makes it fun. They’ve really become like a wonderful jewel box of a family to me. And the dancers and ensembles are some of the strongest that I’ve EVER worked with. It’s so much fun coming into the theater every day to work with them.
Can you tell us more about the music?
When I first read the breakdown of this musical, I was thinking “how is this going to work; mixing Go-Go’s music with this Shakesperian style dialog?” But amazingly enough, it works perfectly! They’ve masterfully woven their music into this story seamlessly. In case you aren’t familiar with the Go-Go’s, they were an all-female rock band from the 80’s that wrote/produced their own music, played their own instruments and were one of the first groups to break gender barriers in the rock ‘n roll space.
This story deals with a lot of things that we’re dealing with our society today; social politics, sexual politics and sexual identity.The heart of the Go-Go’s really lends itself to the themes of this show. And I feel like the Go-Go’s were far ahead of their time for some of these things.
What is your favorite part of the musical?
There are a lot of favorites but one of my top highlights is the dancing that the ensemble does in between numbers. It’s incredible! I also love the music. As a child of the 80’s, I grew up with the music of the Go-Go’s and they were definitely part of my life/movie soundtrack.
However, there is a song that I had never heard of before by them called ‘This Old Feeling’. Our Music Supervisor, Tom Kit (who also wrote Next to Normal ), had the genius idea to turn into a type of “waltzy rock song” and it’s one of my favorite songs to sing! It’s a duet with Rachel York (the Queen) and it’s SO fun!
How is this production unique and different from the other productions that you’ve done in the past?
I’ve got a real love for Shakespear. To get to do a blank verse on stage is so fun and exciting! Of course, it’s not Shakespear but James Magruder (the musical’s Adapter and Writer) has done an amazing job of giving us a lot of beautiful verses. And that for me is the most fun. It’s definitely something that people haven’t seen me do before. The music is right in my wheelhouse, being sung in rock ‘n roll, but getting to see this Shakesperian King come out of me is something I most excited about doing.
The logo of the musical is perfect because Head Over Heels is really turning this genre on its head (like the upside-down crown) and there’s this giant beating heart that’s within the storyline that will definitely make you cry at the end. It’s just so good!
What’s next for you on the horizon?
After this fun of performances in San Francisco, we’re headed to New York to perform Head Over Heels on Broadway! We’re all hoping that we are there for awhile and have very high hopes that it will.
I’ve also been working on our first feature film with my brother called ‘The Idea of Manhood’ that’s hitting the festival circuit now! He’s also written a play that I’m directing and working on, so there’s a lot of fun projects that I’m working on.
Head Over Heels tickets are available now and the show opens on April 10 – May 6, 2018. Make sure to go check out to get the exclusive showing before it heads to Broadway!
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