Freaky Friday The Musical Review
By Jake Freeman
Freaky Friday The Musical is a new take on both the 2003 Disney film and the 2018 Disney TV musical, which in turn is based on the popular 1972 Mary Rodgers novel by the same name. It tells of the humorous and wacky story of a mother and her teenage daughter who magically swap bodies and in doing so, experience each other’s lives firsthand, for a whole day. The 2003 Disney film starred Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis as the mother and daughter. In total, there have been four Freaky Friday film versions with the two Disney adaptations being the most successful and popular with audiences. It had the perfect blend of comedy, romance and drama that worked well across all ages.
Freaky Friday The Musical opens on the conflict between Ellie (Lyla Digrazia), the strong-minded teenage daughter who resents her mother, Katherine (Stephanie Powell), a wedding planner who is getting married the next day, for remarrying so soon after her father’s death. Ellie’s school friends want her to join them in The Hunt, a scavenger hunt competition that involves traveling around the city all night. Katherine forbids it because The Hunt is at the same time as the rehearsal dinner for her wedding. This leads to a confrontation between Ellie and Katherine that ends with an hourglass in the room that breaks, causing the two to switch bodies. Once they realize the body switch, Katherine recalls that there was another hourglass to the one that broke, but it has since been given away by Ellie to an antique shop. Only problem is, she cannot remember which antique shop it was. To make things worse, Katherine’s wedding is only one day away. Putting their differences aside, the mother and daughter team up and try to recover the matching hour glass that they believe could switch them back.
Originally, I had high expectations when taking my seat at the theatre and was not disappointed. Ellie the teenage daughter (Lyla Digrazia) and Katherine, the mother (Stephanie Powell), were both terrific all the way through. Both had a strong stage presence and performed beautifully with their amazing strong vocals and execution of physical comedy and dance. What made the show really work well and made it very entertaining was the onstage chemistry between the two.
The biggest laughs gained on the night were made by Lyla and Katherine, in particular when both of the leads are coming to terms with being in the swapped body and putting on a good act for their unsuspecting friends and family. Lyla and Stephanie complimented each other so well during their musical duets together. Some of their best numbers included, “Today and Ev’ry Day”, “Not Myself Today””Busted”. Both were also excellent in their solo moments and captured the essence of Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis from the film.
I was very impressed with and keen to see where the road will lead Lyla Digrazia to next, who at only 19 has already been in 28 musicals.
This is also one of those shows where not only the main cast, but the supporting cast were extremely talented, especially in the vocal department. Every performer in Freaky Friday, even the minor or one-off characters was a joy to watch and could easily hold down their own solo show. First comes to mind in saying this was Michael Gray as Katherine’s husband to be, Mike. His vocal ability was simply out of this world. I was caught off guard, pleasantly so, by his magnificent baritone singing. It was just a shame; he did not get more stage time or even a solo spot. I would definitely pay to see him at a one-man show doing Michael Bublé covers.
Other supporting cast members that stood out include Jessi Neilsen Carreno as the school gym teacher who sang ‘Watch Your Back’, with again a voice so strong, it reached Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive” levels. Thomas Martin as Adam, the boy that Ellie has a secret crush on, was also a joy and had the audience in stitches, singing along with Nathaniel Calleja as Fletcher, Ellie’s puppet-wielding younger brother and belting out “Women and Sandwiches”.
Having attended Driftwood, The Musical here a few months ago which also dealt with family drama and conflict, I felt that Chapel off Chapel was the ideal venue for this show and being able to create that sort of intimacy and relationship between the story and the audience. The lighting design throughout the musical was very clever, especially the enchanted elements, such as when the mother and daughter switch at the beginning and at the end of the story, or having members of the cast holding lanterns and walking up the stairs to the audience in the dark in the opening of the second act.
The offstage music performance was on par with the onstage talent. The creative team did a great job of transitioning seamlessly between scenes and locations with very little distraction and utilizing the small stage space provided and were able to still tell the story with minimal props and set pieces. Locations were as diverse as a school science lab, an outdoor wedding venue, an antique store and a bus stop.
Freaky Friday is both very funny and very entertaining, but also manages to highlight the message of the importance of a strong family and working together in tough times. You become so entertained and captivated by the talent on display, you will easily forget it’s 2 hour run time.
This is a show for the whole family, or better still just for the mothers and daughters on a Friday. If you had seen any of the film versions, then the live stage version should be added to your list.
Freaky Friday – The Musical is now on for a limited season until 18 September at Chapel Off Chapel at 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran. The run time is two hours & 30 minutes, including intermission. Show also contains strobe lighting effects
To buy tickets to the show, go to – https://chapel.sales.ticketsearch.com/sales/salesevent/76184