Head Over Heels Signed Poster

'Head Over Heels' featured many talented performers and amused audiences at Stan State's Mainstage Theatre. (Signal Photo/Kimberly Horne)

Stanislaus State’s theatre department is back and thriving with the lively performances of Head Over Heels, directed by Carin Heidelbach. The showings were the college’s first live performances in almost two years. Members of the show were happy to be back onstage in front of a live audience.

Head Over Heels is a comedic play that explores the unusual combination of the sophisticated Shakespeare era with the rocking 80’s, featuring the music of the GoGo’s. The play also explores the topic of gender norms and identity within its adventurous story.

Lucas Gonzales, who played as the tender-hearted shepherd boy Musidorus, explains the character and how he experiences self-discovery.

“Gender is just something that I don’t think you need to look at it on purely ‘You’re either masculine or you’re feminine’, so I identify a lot with Musidorus with not denying himself his femininity. He’s not going to deny that because he sees the true part of himself,” said Gonzales.

The play delves into gender identity and sexual orientation in a way in which many of the audience can connect. It also has its fair share of humor, which can be summed up by Queen Gynecia’s goblet with a crazy straw.

Not only does the performance stand out in its boldness in discussing gender and sexuality and combining two drastic timelines together, but it also provided a spark of energy that had been absent due to the reality of quarantine.

“There was a ridiculous amount of energy, even through the whole rehearsal and performance process. This show was basically the first show that most of the cast was a part of live again,” said Carissa Shrum (senior, Theatre).

Shrum performed as a member of the ensemble alongside Doyle Smith, who shared similar feelings with returning back to the stage.

“It was exhilarating being around people and to do theatrical work when it’s been such a long time, but there was also some anxiety with that situation with everything going on with Covid [and figuring out] what can we do to make sure that we’re staying safe,” explained Smith.

Due to Covid-19, theatre previously had to undertake a virtual platform. While it did provide the opportunity for performers to keep moving forward, it lacked the energy of other performers being together.

“The energy that you get from a live performance is missing from those virtual performances,” said Smith.

Not only was the liveliness and charisma of fellow performers missing, but also the presence of a live audience.

“I think a few students felt very disheartened,” said Gonzales. “It took away one of the main things that makes live theater, which is an audience.”

Now with mask mandates, Covid self-screenings, and social distancing put into place at the campus, audiences can once again enjoy the performances of the many talented actors, singers and dancers at Stan State.

“Everybody wanted to be there,” said Shrum. “We all had a goal to focus on and work toward. And just being a part of that was really, really cool.”

Some factors of a live performance that were missed by the performers include the anticipation before the play begins, the colorful lights that fill the stage, and the huge smiles shared by performers as they run out on stage creates the atmosphere that the Mainstage Theatre was missing for the past two years.

Each scene provided its own immersive experience as the story progressed further and the perspective of each character was shown through a fun, serious and adventurous play. Self-discovery, love, and betrayal were expressed throughout this unique story.

Theater at Stan State will not be going away anytime soon. There are currently plans for student written and directed plays in which Shrum and Elena Gonzalez (Assistant Director) will be directing some of those plays.

“I know Stan State is actually getting ready for student directed plays,” said Smith. “My wife [Elena Gonzalez] being the director of one of those plays, and I have the opportunity to do two of those plays that are happening for that event.”

Head Over Heels certainly set the stage for returning to live performances at Stan State, and more is soon to come as life itself returns back to its former glory.

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