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With 'Head Over Heels,' Calliope Theatre's debut is a Go-Go

Calliope Theatre makes a delayed debut with a musical based on hit songs by the Go-Go's.

Head Over Heels 01.JPG
From left, Lucas Simonson and Sarah Obert get direct from choreographer Audrey Rinkoski in rehearsal for Calliope Theatre's "Head Over Heels" at Peace United Church of Christ Aug. 9, 2021. John Molseed / Post Bulletin
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What do you get when you mix a handful of 40-year-old pop hits with a 16th-century romance?

A musical called “Head Over Heels,” featuring the rough story from a script called “The Arcadia,” along with music from the Go-Go's.

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If you need anything more specific than that, you’ll have to attend one of Calliope Theatre’s performances.

“I don’t know of a good way to describe it,” said show director Tommy Rinkoski. “People will just have to come see it if they want to understand.”

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The show concept was a bit of a surprise to music director Brock Besse.

“I didn’t know the Go-Go's had a catalog big enough to build a musical around,” he said. “Yet here we are.”

Calliope is a new theater company focusing on producing full musicals.

“That’s the niche we're trying to fill as a theater company,” Rinkoski said. “The reason I think it’s doable is because I think there’s such a deep well of musical talent in Rochester.”

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Tommy Rinkoski watches actors in rehearsal for Calliope Theatre's "Head Over Heels" at Peace United Church of Christ Aug. 9, 2021. John Molseed / Post Bulletin

The company was poised to launch with its first production in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put the planned debut of “Jekyll & Hyde the Musical” on pause.

“We had momentum — we had a fundraiser, we received a grant from the Southeast Minnesota Arts Council,” Rinkoski said. “Trying to keep that momentum up was really a challenge.”

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SEMAC allowed the group to keep the grant for the performance at a later date. That money and sponsorships for the show were earmarked specifically for the production. So Calliope laid low for 2020.

“We didn’t try to do any performances or any engagement,” Rinkoski said.

Then, as vaccines were rolled out and restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were lifted, Rinkoski and his wife discovered the Broadway cast soundtrack to “Head Over Heels.”

“The music is so upbeat,” he said. “It sounds fresh and new because it’s Broadway style, with extra voices and harmonies from the cast.”

Rights for the show were released this spring, and the theater’s board decided to go with it for the company’s debut.

“Honestly, it’s not a show people will be familiar with, but I think there’s a hunger to go see a big musical,” Rinkoski said.

The show is updated with themes of inclusivity and LGBTQ+ positivity to go with the combination of U.K. chart toppers and Elizabethan prose.

The performance will include a live, five-piece band performing the Go-Go's songs. Rinkoski’s wife, Audrey, choreographed the performance.

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The show will be performed in the black box theater space at the Rochester Civic Theatre. The cast rehearsed at Peace United Church of Christ before moving into the black box space about a week before opening.

Tickets are available online at www.calliopetheatremn.org .

If you go

What: Calliope Theatre’s “Head Over Heels”

When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19, 20; Sept. 23-25; 2:30 p.m. Aug. 22, Sept. 26

Where: Civic Theater Black Box, 20 Civic Center Drive

Tickets: www.calliopetheatremn.org

Related Topics: ROCHESTEROLMSTED COUNTY
John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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