Pasadena Playhouse Go-Gos ‘Head Over Heels’ for Upcoming 2021-2022 Season

Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman enthusiastically promises celebratory return to live theater
Published on Aug 26, 2021

Expect great things, safe things, and unexpected things from the Pasadena Playhouse this season when the curtain rises again, Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman said in an interview this week.

“Our mission is to bring people together and the pandemic interrupted that. It interrupted that in the sense that we could not bring people together in our four walls, the way we’ve been doing for over a hundred years.

“We found other ways with our digital programming and connecting and giving artists opportunities to connect with those in the community digitally.”

But nothing can substitute for live theater.

“We’re thrilled now that we are able to come back,” Feldman continued. “With some modifications and with masks, and with vaccinations. But we are able to come back — it’s time to bring our community back together.”

Just about a dozen weeks before the November 9 opening of  “Head Over Heels,” the Go-Go’s musical, Feldman walked us through the upcoming 2021-2022 season.

The Go-Go’s theatrical experience comes to Pasadena directly from Broadway. But as Feldman explained, it required some new staging ideas.

“I like having some surprises,” he offered, “so I’m not going to reveal all of our tricks, but we really wanted to make sure that after so many months away, that when we came back, it was a celebration and that the world has changed around us. Because the world is all around us, we wanted a show and an experience that was different because our world is different.”

Feldman explained that staging  “Head Over Heels” will involve  reconfiguring the theater to “make the show happen all around the audience.”

“The audience is at the center of the show,” continued Feldman.  “They interact with each other in different ways throughout the experience of the show. There are people in traditional theater seats but there are also audience members who will have the ability to dance along to the music of the Go-Go’s all night long.”

“It’s a celebration and a party and the community coming together.”

Theatergoers will be able to buy tickets to be seated in the dance floor area, but stressed Feldman, “The show is great no matter where you are. As I said, it happens all around you. It’ll be closer to the action than any other show we’ve ever done. And it really is a complete theater transformation for this.”

The Pasadena show will run 90 minutes, unlike the longer Broadway show.

“People who are dancing and moving around can’t do that for two hours plus —so it’s a 90-minute show with no intermission,” Feldman said, adding, “But it is still a wild celebratory experience.”

From the music of Jane Weidlin and Charlotte Caffey, the season moves into the work of Shakespeare, on February 1, 2022, with the re-telling of the history-based tragedy, “Richard III,” but with a serious modern twist.

The Pasadena Playhouse version, provocatively titled “Teenage Dick,”  follows a high school-aged Richard, running for senior class president and bullied because of his cerebral palsy disability.

Offers Feldman, “It’s really a fresh, modern play that connects to the historic classic Richard the Third, but in a whole new way for a contemporary audience. It’s a night of theater I promise people they will never forget.”

Feldman also allowed, coyly and cautiously, “I don’t want to say too much more than that, but that’s what we got.”

The third show of the season is set as  “Ann,” the story of Ann Richards, the colorful former Texas Governor, slated to open next March 23. The show features Emmy-winning and Tony-nominated actress Holland Taylor.

“She did the show on Broadway and we were supposed to do the show here just when the pandemic hit, so it’s been postponed and we’re finally able to do it,” he said.

 “There’s a lot of energy and excitement around it. Taylor is excited to be here and it’s really a memorable, hilarious, fun night of theater celebrating a political figure that frankly needs to be celebrated and that people need to know more of.”

Feldman emphasized Richards’ larger-than-life persona.  “She had a great way of reaching across the aisle and bringing people together. And there’s a spirit of that in this show.”

“It’s just what we expect from our elected officials and civic engagement,” he continued, adding, “It’s really a great piece. So I’m excited to have that here.”

“Ann” is  followed by a “secret” show which has not been officially announced yet, said Feldman, but that one is followed by “Freestyle Love Supreme,” an early work from Lin Manuel Miranda, creator of “Hamilton.”

“Before Lin Manuel created “Hamilton,” and “In The Heights” he and a couple of his friends created the show, and we are honored to be [its] LA home.”

“Freestyle” will also arrive directly from Broadway, where it also earned a special Tony award in 2020. And it is the first time we’ve had a show come directly from Broadway, and it’s Lin Manuel Miranda”.

The show takes a group of freestyle hip hop rappers, a band on stage, and the audience, said Feldman.

“Everything is made up as it goes along,” he said. “It is different every night, a wild, fun night that truly redefined what a play can be, what a musical can be. It is created in the moment with the audience’s help every single night. And doesn’t get much more live, or contemporary or relevant, than that.”

Meanwhile, all Pasadena Playhouse patrons will be required to wear a mask fully covering their nose and mouth at all times while in the theater. Ticket holders will be required to be fully vaccinated and will need to provide a photo ID and proof of vaccination.

Guests under 12 years old or those who need a reasonable accommodation for medical reasons or due to a sincerely held religious belief must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to entering the theater.

Children under 5 will not be admitted. Children over 5 years old must be able to wear a mask fully covering their nose and mouth at all times while in the theater.

The Pasadena Playhouse is at 39 South. El Molino Avenue

Pasadena, CA. (626) 356-7529.

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