Thursday, May 2, 2019

SAVE THE DATES: Chicago Premiere of Head Over Heels Via Kokandy Productions July 1 – August 25, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Kokandy Productions Announces the Chicago Premiere of
Songs by The Go-Go’s

 The creative team for Kokandy Productions’ Chicago premiere of HEAD OVER HEELS includes (left to right) Co-Directors Derek Van Barham and Elizabeth Swanson, music director Kyra Leigh and choreographer Breon Arzell.

Based on The Arcadia by Sir Phillip Sidney
Conceived & Original Book by Jeff Whitty
Adapted by James Magruder

Co-Directed by Derek Van Barham & Elizabeth Swanson

Music Direction by Kyra Leigh
Choreography by Breon Arzell

July 1 – August 25, 2019 
at Theater Wit

Kokandy Productions is pleased to announce the Chicago premiere of
the bold new musical comedy HEAD OVER HEELS, featuring songs by The Go-Go’s, based on The Arcadia by Sir Phillip Sidney, conceived and original book by Jeff Whitty and adapted by James Magruder. Making its Chicago debut just six months after concluding its Broadway run, HEAD OVER HEELS is co-directed by Kokandy’s new Producing Artistic Director Derek Van Barham and Elizabeth Swanson, with music direction by Kyra Leigh and choreography by Breon Arzell. Casting will be announced shortly. 

HEAD OVER HEELS will play July 1 – August 25, 2019 at Theater Wit,
1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at www.kokandyproductions.comby calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office. I'll be out for the press opening July 6th, so check back shortly after for my full review.

From the visionaries that rocked Broadway with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Avenue Q and Spring Awakening, HEAD OVER HEELS is a laugh-out-loud love story is set to the music of the iconic 1980’s all-female rock band The Go-Go’s, featuring the hit songs, “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Vacation,” Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “Mad About You.” A hilarious, exuberant celebration of love, HEAD OVER HEELS follows the escapades of a royal family on an outrageous journey to save their beloved kingdom from extinction – only to discover the key to their realm’s survival lies within each of their own hearts.

Comments Producing Artistic Director Derek Van Barham, “A celebratory pop musical about self-love and acceptance? I can’t imagine a better way to spend the summer!  Whether you’re looking for escape or sanctuary, the world of Head Over Heels has something for everyone. There’s a universal journey of self-discovery at the pulse of this show, and I am so proud to be able to share it with Chicago!”

Board President Scot Kokandy comments, “I also wanted to take this opportunity to share some updates to our staff and board. In January, we welcomed new board member Katherine Smith to fill the vacancy that occurred due to the passing of Gitta Jacobs. We know Gitta will always be with us in
spirit cheering us on and we thank her for her wisdom and guidance while working with us. Nik Whitcomb has left as one of our Artistic Associate – we wish him well on all his artistic endeavors. Lastly, founding member John D. Glover retired from the organization last year and I want to acknowledge his contributions. Not only did John contribute to the artistic formation and ongoing
vision of the company by directing sixs shows over six years, but he made significant contributions financially, both personally and through his fundraising efforts. If it wasn’t for John’s efforts and support early on, the company wouldn’t be here today.”

Location: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago
Dates: Previews: Monday, July 1 at 7 pm, Tuesday, July 2 at 7 pm, Wednesday, July 3 at 7 pm and Friday, July 5 at 8 pm
Press performance: Saturday, July 6 at 8 pm
Regular run: Sunday, July 7 – Sunday, August 25, 2019

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will be added performances on Saturday, July 27 at 3 pm, Saturday, August 10 at 3 pm and Saturday,
August 24 at 3 pm.

Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $40. Students/seniors $35. Tickets are available at, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office.

About the Artists
Derek Van Barham (Co-Director) is the Producing Artistic Director of Kokandy Productions, and a member of the Red Tape Theatre ensemble. He previously served as Associate Artistic Director of Pride Films & Plays. For PFP, he directed Perfect Arrangement, Angry Fags (Steppenwolf Garage), Songs from an Unmade Bed (Jeff nomination), and (co-directing) PRISCILLA, Queen of the Desert. Choreography credits include The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier and BITE (PFP), all Black Button Eyes productions, and Salonathon. Other directing credits include The View Upstairs (Circle Theatre), Three Days of Rain (Boho) and Miracle! by Dan Savage and Skooby Don't! (Hell in a Handbag). He was named one of Windy City Times 30 Under 30, recognizing Chicago's LGBTQ+ community.

Elizabeth Swanson (Co-Director) is a Chicago-based theater director. Recent credits include I Know My Own Heart (Pride Films & Plays), Hildegard: A New Musical (With a Machete Productions), Where All the White Sneakers At? (Second City) and Lungs (Granary Theatre, Cork, Ireland). Assistant directing credits include Fun Home (Victory Gardens Theater), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and Vardo for the Dublin Theatre Festival (Anu Productions). Elizabeth has also directed for Stage 773’s Artists Lab, as well as festival shows and readings with About Face Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Theater Marathon, The New Colony and Waltzing Mechanics,
among others. Elizabeth holds an MFA from the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Arts at the University of Dublin.
Kyra Leigh (Music Director, she/her/hers) is active as both a musician and actor. She’s composed and performed for the prestigious Stewart Ostrow Musical Theatre Lab, Prop Thtr, and released a full length album, “Transfigure.” She’s acted with the Jeff Award-winning Theo Ubique, The National Pastime Theatre, and is making her debut with Pride Films & Plays. She’s performed as a solo artist at venues such at Mary's Attic, Park West, The Abbey Pub and Davenport’s. She also directs shows at the Chicago School of Rock and is an active church musician with North Shore Baptist. She is a passionate advocate for trans visibility in the worlds of pop music, classical music and theatre. She is
currently represented by DDO Artists.

Breon Arzell (Choreographer) Most commonly known as an actor, Arzell's breakout, and award-winning, premiere as a Chicago choreographer came with Oracle Productions' The Hairy Ape. The Detroit native received his first training while at Miami University. In Chicago, he has worked as a dancer, choreographer and instructor at Joel Hall Dancers & Center, Porchlight Music Theatre, Vagabond School and The Goodman Theatre (for their Musical Theater Program). Developing his own style of dance (hip-hop, jazz, modern, lyrical, contemporary and body percussion) and storytelling, movement credits include: We Are Proud to Present (Steppenwolf Theatre), Poseidon! (Hell in a Handbag), The Total Bent (Haven Theatre/About Face), Rightlynd, The House That Will Not Stand (Victory Gardens Theater), Night Runner, Wig Out (DePaul University); Julius Caesar (Writers Theatre), Marie Christine  (BoHo Theatre), The Wiz  (Kokandy), Scottsboro Boys (Porchlight Music Theatre), and more. His talents have allowed him to work all across the U.S., Canada, England, Italy,
Germany, Denmark, Singapore and Malaysia.

About Kokandy Productions
Founded in 2010, Kokandy Productions seeks to leverage the heightened reality of musical theater
to tell complex and challenging stories, with a focus on contributing to the development of Chicago-
based musical theater artists, and raising the profile of Chicago's non-Equity musical theater

The company's artistic staff is comprised of John D. Glover (Artistic Producer), Allison Hendrix
(Producing Artistic Director), Scot T. Kokandy (Executive Producer) and Kory Danielson (Resident
Music Director).

For additional information, visit

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