Go-Go’s tunes, Elizabethan comedy in ‘Head Over Heels’

If, 30 years ago, you’d have told The Go-Go’s that their 1980s hits would one day form the basis of a Broadway musical, they’d have scoffed at the idea.

“Who would have thought?” says guitarist Charlotte Caffey, referring to “Head Over Heels,” the anticipated show opening Wednesday in The City at the Curran in a pre-Broadway run. “We’d have been like, ‘Yeah, right.’”

But the unthinkable happened when producers Donovan Leitch (son of ‘60s folk phenom Donovan) and Rick Ferrari emailed Caffey and bandmates Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Jane Wiedlin and Kathy Valentine an impassioned missive about making a musical with The Go-Go’s in January 2011.
Signing on was a no-brainer for the band.

“It’s great that these people who are well respected are taking our music so seriously and looking beneath the surface,” Caffey says. “I wrote ‘We Got the Beat,’ which is a fun song, and people equate us with fun, but there’s so much more to us than that. On the first record, for example, Jane Wiedlin wrote such incredibly deep lyrics for a 20-year-old. So it’s amazing that such an esteemed group of people can see that.”

Written by Tony winner Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q,” “Bring It On: The Musical”), directed by Tony recipient Michael Mayer (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Spring Awakening”) and with musical arrangements by Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tom Kitt (“Next To Normal,” “American Idiot”), “Head Over Heels” is a comedy based on Sir Philip Sidney’s centuries-old romance “The Arcadia” about a king who’ll do just about anything to save his beloved family and kingdom from ruin.

Although the show, which premiered in 2015 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is set in the Elizabethan era, it breaks ground with avant-garde costuming and socially relevant messages of inclusion and acceptance, Caffey says. And the tunes — pop-rock classics “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Mad About You,” “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and more — have been revamped for the show.

“When Tom Kitt let us hear the song versions he arranged, it was the music we had been playing for decades realized in a different way, which was so amazing,” Caffey says. “We are thrilled and excited and very overwhelmed with gratitude to have this experience at this stage in our career.”

Head Over Heels
Where: Curran, 445 Geary St,, S.F.
When: Tuesdays through Sundays; closes May 6
Tickets: $29 to $175
Contact: (415) 358-1220, www.sfcurran.com

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