“Queer is here, honey!” declared Tony winner Billy Porter as he helped kick off Playbill’s Live From the Red Carpet on the opening night of Broadway’s new musical Head Over Heels July 26. The star of FX’s Pose and Tony winner for Kinky Boots, Porter was able to enjoy the new work featuring songs by The Go-Go’s from the audience. “It’s so fabulous. It’s just a fun night of love and joy and happiness and peace and coming together and all of that sh*t.”
Indeed, the musical is a celebration of diversity on the spectra of gender, race, sexual orientation, and more.
Set in the 1580s, the musical blends old-school prose with contemporary images and sounds—like with Spencer Liff’s choreography. “The very first picture you see in the show is ‘The Last Supper.’ That sparked the idea that he opening number was at this festival and we decided that it would be the Summer Solstice but I had this idea of these long oak tables that everyone was around and I would take that ‘Last Supper’ and flip it on its head and make it this big queer extravaganza," says Liff.
“It's all about assembling your bag of tricks. Thinking about choreographing an entire two-and-a-half hour show is really daunting,” Liff continued. “I love to sketch first and see it as a whole and I go back in and I detail. I took a month off studying the videos from [the out-of-town tryout in] San Francisco.”
Director Michael Mayer took over the show for its San Francisco tryout (after a debut at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2015) and told us about creating the jukebox musical. “The very cool thing is these songs fit better than they should,” he said. “The Go-Go’s catalog is not as many big hits so there are songs that people haven't necessarily heard before and the first time that they’re really encountering them is in the context of this narrative, so I think we get away with a lot more that way.”
“The only way this could get any better is if instead of walking in I get lowered from the ceiling,” Peppermint gushed. The former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant makes her Broadway debut as the first out trans woman to originate a principal role on Broadway.
“It’s refreshing to me to be a part of a story that is so fresh,” she told Playbill live. “It's not lost on me that there are people who stand by the stage door that tell me they identify as non-binary and they rarely ever if they have ever seen themselves reflected in any way in any type of medium of entertainment. I hope that I do it justice because I bring some of myself to it. I want it to be authentic ... and treat it with such fun but also the seriousness of the times.” Watch Peppermint and more stars of Head Over Heels finish out the red carpet livestream in the video below.