Freaky Friday (theatrical) – theatre review

A widow with a 16-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son who prides herself on her scrupulous control and attention to detail is due to get married the next day. Her daughter is hardly enamoured by the idea and butts heads with her. Then everything changes when magically they switch bodies and have to step into each other’s shoes. That is the premise of Freaky Friday.

Photos by Evangeline Kepler Studios

So it is that mum Katherine (Stephanie Powell), who now looks like her daughter Ellie (Lyla Digrazia) has to go to school, where she is in the 11th grade. In turn, Ellie has to deal with a journalist and photographer from Weddings’ magazine looking to create a front-page story. In the process, some home truths sees Ellie’s younger brother Fletcher (Nathaniel Calleja) – who enjoys playing with hand puppets – run away from home.

Also, Ellie’s feelings for classmate Adam (Thomas Martin) are put to the test, while her competitive spat with Savannah (Kate Thurkle) reaches new heights. That has to do finding a lost hourglass in a treasure hunt. That timepiece is the only hope Katherine and Ellie have of reverting back to their former selves.

Based on a novel by Mary Rodgers and Disney films of 1976, 1995 and 2003, Freaky Friday is a delightful family musical. The book is by Bridget Carpenter, with music by Tom Kitt and lyrics from Brian Yorkey. It is clever, funny, joyous and uplifting. Theatrical’s two leads, Lyla Digrazia and Stephanie Powell, are sensational – their powerful and dynamic vocals electrifying. I equate Digrazia’s singing to liquid gold. She is so fluid and ear pleasing. Powell, too, excites with her tone and delivery. Her facial expressions are priceless.

Thomas Martin really comes into his own with significant heavy lifting in the second act, where his purity of sound shines. Michael Gray is another winner, playing three roles, including Katherine’s good-natured fiancé, Mike. The 17-strong cast is glorious in harmony, making the most of the music and lyrics.

The orchestra, led by musical director Peter Pham Nguyen, are to be commended, while Bridie Clark’s choreography works beautifully. The musical is set against a cartoon-like set, with Jason Bovaird’s lighting particularly effective. It is safe to say that a good time is had by all, while watching and listening to an inspiring production of Freaky Friday. Directed by Bronte Regos Thiele, it is playing at Chapel Off Chapel until 18th September, 2022.

Alex First

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