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11th January 2023

Head Over Heels: In conversation with Liam Gartland of Gartland Productions

The Mancunion sits down with Liam Gartland, the producer of Head Over Heels, ahead of its European premiere at Hope Mill Theatre
Head Over Heels: In conversation with Liam Gartland of Gartland Productions
Liam Gartland. Photo: Gartland Productions

Ahead of the European premiere of Head Over Heels, the Broadway jukebox musical that uses the music of The Go-Go’s, we sat down with its producer for a candid conversation about his career and the musical.

Liam Gartland, a proud Mancunian, is an up-and-coming theatre producer who runs Gartland Productions. He had his West End producing debut back in 2021, a mere year after he began his career as a theatre producer. Whilst he’s now based in London, he’s thrilled to be staging the European premiere of Head Over Heels in his hometown – better yet, during LGBT+ History Month!

Tell us a bit about your background. What were you doing before you set up Gartland Productions? How did you get into producing?

I started in theatre at a young age when I went to Oldham Theatre workshop, I then attended Pendleton College to study Musical Theatre before studying my BA (Hons) at Guildford School of Acting. Graduating in the year of the pandemic (2020) meant I went back to my family home in Rochdale, where quite frankly, I couldn’t sit still. I had to be doing something.

I went on to co-found The Grad Fest, an award-winning company providing performance opportunities and support for recent theatre graduates. The Grad Fest were awarded a ‘ONEOFF Special Award’ for their dedicated work through the pandemic supporting theatre graduates and were nominated for the ‘Recognition Award’ by Industry Minds.

Following this, I started producing productions independently with productions including; LIFT (Southwark Playhouse), Daddy Issues (Seven Dials Playhouse), I Could Use A Drink (Garrick Theatre), Tell Me Straight (King’s Head Theatre) and A Song For Christmas (Iris Theatre).

You had your West End producing debut in 2021. What was that like?

When I started producing independently, my first production was a streamed production (I Could Use A Drink). Later that year, we were lucky enough to be part of the Rising Stars Festival which was run by Nica Burns and NIMAX Theatres. To have this opportunity at such an early point of my career really threw me into the deep end but I was able to challenge myself and continue to reach bigger goals.

I’m guessing you’re a fan of Belinda Carlisle and The Go-Go’s. How did you get into their music?

I have always been a fan of music that was never in my era. I think being exposed to so many wonderful musicals and musicians when I was young allowed me to explore and constantly find new artists and writers. That being said, The Go Go’s music is much more than what’s written on the page, it’s the overall celebration of the group being the most successful female rock band of all time.

I think I’m gaining so much joy producing a musical that includes some of the greatest songs written in the 80s such as ‘We Got the Beat,’ ‘Our Lips Are Sealed,’ ‘Vacation,’ Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ and ‘Mad About You’. Alongside a story that has many important messages to society in 2023.

Liam Gartland. Photo: Gartland Productions

Why were you keen to bring Head Over Heels to the UK?

When I found Head Over Heels, it filled me with great excitement, being able to premiere a musical that is filled with important messages and so much joy seemed like a perfect fit. So, I approached the team to see if I could hold the licence to bring the production to the UK and after pitching the wonderful Tom Jackson Greaves to direct and choreograph the production, we then had the rights.

I never thought I’d see The Go-Go’s and Arcadia in the same sentence! When you first heard about the musical, what were your initial thoughts?

I was intrigued and for that reason, I grabbed the script and put the soundtrack on and had a read. From then, the only thoughts running through my brain were, how do I get this on stage in the UK?

What’s it like bringing a brand-new musical to the country? Most people have never heard of Head Over Heels so you’ve really got to sell it. Is it a lot of pressure?

I think the fact that people haven’t heard of Head Over Heels is the exciting thing. We have such a great team attached to the project and of course, the music of the Go-Go’s and Belinda Carlisle. It’s pressuring selling any show, we take a risk in thinking we know what people want to see. But every single member of the team has put everything they have to deliver audiences a fantastic production and the audiences members that witness this production are in for a real treat.

What sets HOH apart? If somebody is looking for something to see in Manchester this February, why should they go with HOH over, say, The Rocky Horror Show?

Head Over Heels is a laugh-out-loud love story that celebrates queerness. It’s full of songs that once you hear them, they will be on repeat for a long time. It’s a show that delivers important messages in a joyful way and most importantly it’s a great night out! So I think with the real heart that this show has, people will be missing out if they don’t book a ticket, there’s six weeks of performances and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Why Hope Mill Theatre and why Manchester?

I was born and raised in Manchester and the Hope Mill Theatre was one of the first places I went to to watch musicals that I wouldn’t haven’t seen at the larger commercial theatres. Watching Joe Houston and Will Whelton build a 140 seat theatre in Manchester that has the facilities to programme huge titles made me even more excited to produce there. When looking for the perfect venue to premiere Head Over Heels I knew that there was no better place than the Hope Mill.


Head Over Heels runs at Hope Mill Theatre from January 26 to March 4.

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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