Categories: Kristen Schweizer, THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: Dazzling Delight: Head Over Heels @ Diversionary Theatre

June 5, 2023

By Kristen Nevarez Schweizer

(L-R) Kevin Phan, Amanda Naughton, Sutheshna Mani, and Alyssa Junious

Diversionary Theatre once again proves its remarkable ability to captivate audiences with its spring musical Head Over Heels, running through June 18, 2023. The joyful theatrical experience is a cohesive, colorful, and visually stunning production.

The jukebox musical is inspired by Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th-century pastoral romance Arcadia. An enchanting kingdom is thrown into disarray when a prophecy foretells the kingdom’s future, and the royal family embarks on a quest to save their land. They encounter mistaken identities, gender-bending twists, and a joyful celebration of individuality and acceptance, all set to the iconic pop music of The Go-Go’s.

The costumes in “Head Over Heels” are a true highlight, seamlessly blending contemporary street style with the Elizabethan era. Designer Elisa Benzoni showcases ingenuity and attention to detail, as each character’s ensemble brilliantly represented their personality, their journey, and the highlighter hues of the 1980s. Her craftsmanship is within each piece’s flattering fit and range of motion for Katie Banville’s choreography. Special shout-out to Benzoni’s incredible supernatural serpentine ensemble for the oracle Pythio (Faith Carrion).

Berto Fernandez

Complementing the exceptional costuming was the magical backdrop from set designer Justin Humphries. He cleverly utilizes period texture with fluorescent cassette tape, shining CD-ROMs, and gleaming curtains to excite the eye. The cacophony of color and texture matches the music for a mood that is utterly eighties.

Lighting designer Joel Britt deserves equal praise for expertly reflecting the emotions of each number. He keeps the stage feeling fresh through the two-hour-and-fifteen-minute run time in the warm and inviting glow of a tender moment and dynamic, energetic bursts of the throwback rock songs. Plus, his black lights alongside the day-glo costumes and cosmetics makes the all magic feel true.

The remarkable technical cohesiveness is proof the creative team shared a unified vision. This comes as no surprise as it was co-directed by Stephen Brotebeck and Diversionary’s Executive Artistic Director Matt M. Morrow. Morrow has proven himself as the kind of leader people want to follow. Opening night was bittersweet as it marks the preparation for Morrow’s farewell; however, there was much cheering to the news that Brotebeck will step in as Diversionary’s interim Artistic Director during the nationwide search for the next Artistic Director of America’s third-oldest LGBTQ+ Theatre.

(L-R) Kevin Phan Alyssa Junious Sutheshna Mani

Morrow departs at the end of June 2023 after an eight-year reign, in which she increased Diversionary’s operating budget by nearly 150% and spearheaded the $2.7M renovation of the artistic space and Clark Cabaret. He will become the Artistic Director of Center Repertory Company – and they are very lucky to have them! 

It is also worth celebrating that longtime Diversionary leader Jenny Case has been promoted to Executive Director. She is a homegrown theatre professional who worked at the La Jolla Playhouse box office while attending UCSD, eventually rising through a 16-year tenure to become LJP’s Associate General Manager. She has been Diversionary’s Managing Director since 2017.

Diversionary Theatre’s commitment to the journey toward inclusive love, self-discovery, and acceptance shows in this production of Head Over Heels and its staff. Tickets are available for the radiant experience at

Head Over Heels
May 25 – June 18, 2023
Songs by The Go-Go’s
Based Upon The Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney
Conceived and original book by Jeff Whitty
Adapted by James Magruder
Co-directed by Stephen Brotebeck & Matt M. Morrow

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