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Amelia Wells

By Julianne Mosher

Yes, heaven is definitely a place on earth, and it’s right here at Suffolk County Community College’s Ammerman Campus in Selden.

Directed by Marie Danvers, Head Over Heels debuted on Broadway in 2018 and is adapted from Sir Philip Sidney’s The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia written in the 16th century. While still performed in its Shakespearian-era dialect, what’s most fun is the incorporation of music of The Go-Go’s.

The story takes place in the kingdom of Arcadia. King Basilius (Aiden Gomez) and his wife Queen Gynecia (Londyn Williams) have two daughters — Phioclea (Sophia Del Carmen) and Pamela (Kayla Pisano) — and we learn that Phioclea is in love with her childhood friend Musidorus (Jaiden Molina), while Pamela, the prettiest in the land, has dozens of suitors but is secretly in love with her servant, Mopsa (Izzy Mangiaracina), the daughter of Dametas (Gabriel Patrascu).

Soon after Pamela dismisses yet another potential husband, the kingdom’s new oracle, Pythio (Jayden Brown), sends a message that Arcadia might be in trouble and gives them four prophecies, saying that Arcadia needs to change.

Pythio, who is nonbinary, explains that when each of the prophecies are fulfilled, four flags will fall. If all four happen (which it does) then Arcadia will fall. 

It sounds like a lot — and it is. Each character has its own individual story within the major plotline. But the students at SCCC make it easy to understand — even if it’s spoken in old English — and we have to appreciate the musical aspect of it all… especially since the music is from the late 1980s. 

With favorites from the Go-Go’s like “We Got the Beat,” “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” “Mad About You,” and “Our Lips are Sealed,” you’ll be singing and dancing along as each song is seamlessly incorporated into the play. 

That being said, the band is live and so is the singing of the students. Brown’s Pythio, while not in every scene, shines every time they are on stage, while Phioclea’s Del Carmen has a voice made for Broadway. These two students have bright futures ahead when it comes to musical theater. 

Molina’s Musidorus is great — especially since he’s able to gender bend throughout the show (yes, he pretends to be a woman to meet with Phioclea who he’s in love with). Williams, Pisano, Patrascu, Mangiaracina and Gomez perform their roles with such ease, as does the ensemble including Angie Barrientos, Alani Etheridge, Andy Laloudakis, Talia Mazza, Joseph Salerno and Amelia Wells. Quite frankly, you’ll be surprised you’re watching community college students perform these numbers.

The set and costume design also add an extra highlight to the show. The set, while minimal, features two large guitars crossed at the neck with a crown shining above. The stage floor is a rotating record that helps during the chase scenes. The costumes are colorful and a mix of punk, pretty, Elizabethan and 1980s party all in one. 

So, do you have the beat? If you don’t, head to Suffolk’s Shea Theatre and you’ll be sure to say “I’m mad about you” to the cast and crew of Head Over Heels.

The Theatres at Suffolk County Community College present Head Over Heels in the Shea Theater, Islip Arts Building SCCC Ammerman campus, 533 College Road, Selden on April 18, 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. and April 21 at 2 p.m. General admission is $15, veterans and students 16 years of age or younger $10. SCCC students with current ID are offered one free ticket. To order, call the box office at 631-451-4163.

See a sneak preview of the show here.