Freaky Friday at La Jolla Playhouse
Whether you’re talking about Freaky Friday the children’s book, the 1976 Disney film, the 1995 made-for-TV movie, or the 2003 remake (starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis), it’s agreeable that the plot has potential for hokey silliness. It’s a pretty simple and classic premise: a mother and a daughter who don’t understand each other have to see how the other one lives until they ultimately learn to respect one another. And despite the familiar hoke of the story, the new musical adaptation of Freaky Friday, now at the La Jolla Playhouse, is thankfully refreshing and fun and sweet with fantastic new songs from a fantastic cast.
The basic premise remains largely the same, but with some significant changes. Katherine and Ellie, a mother and daughter stressed from their daily lives, can’t seem to see the world from the other’s point-of-view until magic takes over (this time in the form of an enchanted hourglass) and Katherine and Ellie are transported into the other’s bodies, forced to live a day in each other’s shoes until they can find a new magic hourglass to change them back. Along the way Ellie-as-Katherine has to be a grown up, planning her mother’s wedding and taking care of her annoying little brother, and Katherine-as-Ellie has to brave the social jungle of high school and her own teenage hormones around the coolest boy in school, Adam (Adam!).
With wonderfully catchy music by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, familiar to Broadway fans from their Tony award-winning show Next to Normal and If/Then, and a witty book from Parenthood and Friday Night Lights writer Bridget Carpenter, it seems only fitting for the show to have equally talented direction (from La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley) and cast. Aside from the impeccable singing and dancing expected from a musical of this caliber, the cast all bring a great mixture of reality and self-awareness to the story. The teenagers at Ellie’s high school are free to be silly caricatures without feeling outdated or hokey, which was a true fear of mine before seeing the show. And in case you’re wondering if this show has a soloist on a hoverboard, it defintely does!
The stars of the show are of course Ellie and Katherine, played by Broadway veterans Emma Hunton and Heidi Blickenstaff, respectively. Aside from having amazing pipes, Hunton and Blickenstaff manage to act their not-age in a way that doesn’t seem silly. Blickenstaff particularly portrays a teenager such that it’s not just another version of “this is how kids these days act,” and instead carries Ellie’s (and Hunton’s) characteristics and voice, making the performances engaging and fun to watch, rather than an awkward ordeal it could have been.
With a classic message retold in a refreshing and hilarious way, its message and heart are never diminished by the show’s humor, and it never strays into over-sentimentalism. And although we all know how the story ends, this new version has plenty of surprises and twists in the plot right up to the very end. One of the only downsides to this great show is that I don’t get to see it whenever I want! It is, in my opinion, flawless, which speaks to how well the team at La Jolla Playhouse – the directors, staff, actors, orchestra, props department, stage management, and countless others have worked together to execute this passion project for the stage.
Get Tickets Today!
Freaky Friday at La Jolla Playhouse is now open, and runs until March 12, 2017. You can purchase tickets by visitng http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/freaky-friday
Trust me, this is not a show you want to miss! I am already itching to see it again, and I can’t recommend Freaky Friday enough!
Picture Credits: La Jolla Playhouse