Head Over Heels: Reflecting Today’s Audience on Stage

Andrew Durand and Luke Sabracos discuss playing Musidorus in the musical Head Over Heels and how representation helps break the norms of theater.

September 18, 2023
Andrew Durand (B.F.A ’08, musical theater) and Luke Sabracos (B.F.A. ’23, musical theater) share a cup of coffee

Boston Conservatory at Berklee alum Andrew Durand (B.F.A '08, musical theater) recently starred as Beau in the Tony Award-nominated musical Shucked. However, it was another role of Durand’s that sparked a rich conversation with then-student Luke Sabracos (B.F.A. '23, musical theater) during a visit to the Conservatory campus. 

Both performers played the role of Musidorus in the Go-Go’s jukebox musical Head Over Heels (Durand originated the role on Broadway in 2018). The character of Musidorus is deemed unworthy to marry his royal sweetheart. In response, Musidorus disguises himself as Cleophila, an Amazon warrioress, to fool the royal family and continue seeing his love. Durand played the role on Broadway while Sabracos played the same role in the Conservatory’s 2021 Center Stage production. 

Sitting down over coffee, the two alums talked about their experience performing the character and its impact on audiences and themselves.

Q: What do you think makes Head Over Heels so special? 

Andrew Durand: The most exciting thing about being in it, and seeing it, is that it offers so many roles that are outside of the norm of what you get to see on Broadway in terms of gender and body type. It’s sort of like Shakespeare in a sense that it’s a blank palette. Anybody can play any of the parts and it works.

Luke Sabracos (B.F.A. ’23, musical theater)

Luke Sabracos: I think it is a very special show because it opens up conversations about things we are just starting to talk about in theater. For being a show that opened a few years ago, it was a little ahead of its time. 

Andrew Durand: I agree, if it were to open up now it would have had a better life than it did. Even back [in 2018] we knew that it was special and different. By addressing gender and non-binary topics, we had a lot of fans at the stage door who were over the moon that they were finally getting to see themselves represented on stage. 

Luke Sabracos: Audiences are hungrier for this type of work. A lot of people are tired of the general, mostly white, cis straight canon of musical theater. This show breaks the bonds of that, and opens the doors to bring in similar works. 

Andrew Durand: Diversity is important, and that’s why Head Over Heels is important. I think that’s why it’s being done regionally so much. Because it offers so much opportunity for diversity and inclusion and the message of the show is loving who you are for who you are and loving each other for who they are regardless of anything.

Q: How did you decide to play your Musidorus onstage?

Sabracos: I had heard about Head Over Heels, and I looked into the show and heard [Andrew] performing on the cast album. I remember thinking, "This is a role I want to play one day. This would be really fun to me." When creating the role for myself I try to put a lot of my own characteristics into it. I feel like the character itself has this childish kind of nature. Very playful and fun. Very "me" in many ways. But to also disguise myself as a woman was very fun for me, as a gay man, to let a bunch of that out. I watch Drag Race, I have my own little drag persona that I think about all the time. To get to play with that character but then merge that with myself was really fun and created a character that I felt could be fully developed, and one that was my own. 

Andrew Durand (B.F.A ’08, musical theater)

Durand: That's the gift of Musidorus. He’s fully himself and unapologetic, and so earnest and sweet. In creating the part, I feel like [the director] Michael Mayer let me throw things at the wall and see what stuck. I think that's the most important thing about being a performer in general, bringing your own thing to it. I feel like you never want to try to guess what the person wants from you. You just bring what you have to give and that's what ends up being the most exciting thing for people to see. There’s so much heart in that character.

Q: How does it feel to share this moment together as fellow Musidoruses and Conservatory community members?

Sabracos: You spend so much time as a student asking, "What’s going to happen after this?" I think it’s cool to have the opportunity to play a role that [Andrew], an alumnus, played. Meeting [Andrew], who is out there, and doing it, is a light of hope for me. 

Durand: It just highlights even more for me that it’s all about the journey. Not the destination. In this career, we can become so fixated on "I need to get to Broadway, and that’s the only way I’m successful." But you get a Broadway show, and you’re in the dressing room and you’re like, "Oh. What now?" That show will eventually close, and you’re on the journey again. I think being [on campus] and getting to see a show that I did on Broadway really gets me back in touch with the journey of it all. Being grateful for every moment and experience along the way, and taking the time to absorb it. That’s the most important thing.

Luke Sabracos (B.F.A. ’23, musical theater) and Andrew Durand (B.F.A ’08, musical theater) share a cup of coffee