Interview with Head Over Heels star Bonnie Milligan
As the Broadway premiere of Head Over Heels heads, clicking its heels, towards its final performance at the Hudson Theatre on January 6, 2019, we recently got the opportunity to reach out to one of the show’s leading ladies and get her thoughts on perhaps Broadway’s most colorfully inclusive show.
Bonnie Milligan is currently making her Broadway debut as Pamela in the raucous musical comedy, infused with the Greatest Hits of all-female pop-rock band The Go-Go’s. She has previously toured the country delivering a message of acceptance in Kinky Boots and continues now, in a similar fashion, with a musical that celebrates people of all sexual orientations, ethnicities and gender identities.
Head Over Heels could not have arrived on Broadway at a more crucial time in this country’s history, particular as transgender rights spark debate from coast to coast. We hope you can make it to the Hudson Theatre and celebrate the message of this exuberant production with its motley crew of evocative characters, portrayed by Bonnie and all her fabulously gifted cast mates.
What has been your ultimate “pinch-me-I’m-dreaming” moment of being on Broadway so far?
Meeting both Bernadette Peters & Betty Buckley, after they each saw Head Over Heels, was pretty epic as far as Broadway moments go! But my biggest “pinch-me-I’m-dreaming” moment happened, when a couple of weeks later at Jennifer Simard’s solo cabaret show, both ladies remembered me, approached me with a hug and smile and asked how I and the show were doing. Back to back! I could hardly believe my life!
How familiar were you with the music and the songs of The Go-Go’s and Belinda Carlisle growing up and how do those songs help to tell this particular story, inspired by Sir Philip Sidney’s The Arcadia?
I was familiar with the big hits, but I really got to know their catalogue through doing this show. The music fits unbelievably well into our story, it is almost as if some of the songs were written FOR the show. I’m amazed at how the drive of their music really helps drive each character’s emotional journey, which is really what our show is about, these journeys of self-discovery and acceptance.
Head Over Heels is arguably the most inclusive musical I have ever experienced – in terms of sexual orientation, gender identity and, yes, even pronouns. In this respect, what do you feel is the message of the piece for today’s audiences?
Our message is one of acceptance and love. I hope audiences see the beauty in our fairy tale of progress. We celebrate differences on our stage. We are body positive, queer positive, gender fluid and so much more. The world is a beautiful and diverse place if you just look around. Hopefully audiences can see that when you embrace your true authentic self, that’s when you can find true happiness, and seeing others live their true authentic lives, shouldn’t affect yours at all.
Tell us a little bit about the sexual awakening of your character, Pamela, and how you initially formed the character as an actor.
Pamela is the next in line for the throne and so she has lived a very ordered life. She also has always been told that her major worth is her beauty. So she’s of an age now where she must find a husband and all she knows is that no one peaks her interest. It isn’t until she’s on the journey to Bohemia (we take a road trip in our show) and she starts writing poetry and looking within herself, that she starts to feel different things, and specifically about her very best friend and confidant, Mopsa. They’ve always had a fun back and forth relationship that Pamela loves and when she starts looking inside herself to see why she doesn’t like any of the men, Mopsa is suddenly making her feel “disquieted.” That then becomes the journey of her finding her true self and accepting what these feelings might mean and embracing a love with Mopsa, that she never knew was an option or a possibility. I’ve always approached Pamela with great care in making her a very grounded real human being. She may act ridiculous and say crazy things but she also sings lyrics like “my head is full of good things, enough for everyone,” so I take that as fact and know that she loves everyone and has no idea about tact. I’ve journaled, I’ve imagined all of her upbringing to bring her to where the audience meets her.
Which track of The Go-Go’s would you say most defines the soundtrack to your life so far?
"Head Over Heels," which is how I feel about Broadway and our beautiful audiences.
Head Over Heels Tickets are available now for performances through to January 6, 2019.