When devising the set for Monumental Theatre’s Head Over Heels, James Raymond made a few specific choices: set it in the round and add plenty of sparkle.
“There’s glitter everywhere,” laughs the 30-year-old designer who last worked on Monumental’s Pippin. “We’re combining Grecian elements with the ’80s. So it was like how do we combine them and make it a special world.”
Eschewing realism, Raymond concocted vibrant, colorful trees that flanked a circular stage meant to evoke the idea of the sun.
“The trees are bright green and they have all these different pieces of paper and scraps of fabric,” he says. “Basically, it’s another world.”
The show, which originally played for six months on Broadway, is set to the music of The Go-Go’s, the insanely popular ’80s all-girl group whose hits included “We’ve Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Our Sealed,” and the show’s titular number.
“The show is a mix of Go-Go’s music from the ’80s and faux Shakespearian language based on Philip Sidney’s Arcadia,” says director Jimmy Mavrikes. “It sounds like it wouldn’t go together, but it absolutely does in a way that’s really beautiful. It’s very funny, it’s inclusive, it’s about acceptance. The story follows a royal family on a journey to save its beat. Along the way, they realize that their beat is more than just external, but lives within their hearts through acceptance and a more tolerant world.”
Mavrikes brought in Raymond to do the set because “I knew that he was very artsy and his set wouldn’t just be Grecian columns.”
“I chose him knowing that he’d create something special within those aspects,” Mavrikes continues. “He’s done some really great things with draping to make everything more magical. And with the trees, he’s taken real elements, as well as artsy elements, and turned them into this magical woods. He did a great job of blending reality with magic.”
Head Over Heels runs through March 23 at the Ainslie Arts Center in Episcopal High School, 3900 W. Braddock Rd., Alexandria, Va. Tickets are $40. Call 703-933-3000 or visit www.monumentaltheatre.org.
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