‘Freaky Friday’ Review: An enjoyable musical that had little freaky and a dash of Friday


Steve Cobb

Seth Householder, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Theater Director Tyler Lambley is back with his second musical effort at LSE, “Freaky Friday,” and if you’re looking for a fun time loosely based on the classic Disney movie in which an arguing mother and daughter switch bodies and have to learn to accept each other, then you’re in for a treat. The musical excels at the parts in-between big musical numbers, the emotional exploration of a tense mother-daughter relationship through wacky comedy, and the trials of teen-life played out in the halls of high school.

The scenes in the high school are some of the best in the entire play, and although a bit stereotypical, the humor makes up for it. You’re never left bored when everyone is falling for teen-heartthrob Adam, failing gym or dissecting a frog.

Many of the laughs come from the fish-out-of-water performances by senior MaKenzie Nickel as the uptight mother trapped in the hang loose daughter’s body and senior Carlie Thompson, as the hang loose daughter trapped in the uptight mother’s body. One of the best scenes in the entire musical is the parent/teacher conference about the daughter’s failing grades and the mother (daughter) is sticking up for the daughter (mother) while the daughter (mother) is saying how she could do better – that one scene boils down the absurdity of the entire situation and really runs from there. A few other stand-outs to me: Elise Anderson as Parker, Jack Dobson as Adam and Anna Hageman as Senora O’Brien. The rest of the cast members and ensemble were very good at their job too, seamlessly moving from high schoolers, to caterers, to teachers and finally to wedding guests.

As for the whole musical aspect, not many of the songs made an impression on me. One of the songs, titled “Just One Day,” felt like an overdone number as many musicals invoke this lyrical trope – “Wicked”, “Les Miserables”, maybe even “Hairspray”.  The one song that did get to me was “Parents Lie,” a beautifully raw and emotional moment between the mom (sister who’s stuck in the mother’s body) and her brother, because it really came out of left field. Who expects a depressing song about how your parents lie because they love you crammed in-between a comical bit about failing gym class and another bit about a wedding planner’s assistant failing at their job? “Busted” was also a highlight, as the mother and daughter (and a whole lot of other parent/student combos) discover the other’s vices and make a big deal about it. While many of the songs showcased the actor’s voices, a couple of them seemed to be challenging as several of the actors were not able to hit the high notes. Some adjustments to the songs may have helped these performers shine.

Although not as technically marvelous as some of the other plays/musicals put on in recent memory (“Mary Poppins” and “She Kills Dragons”, I’m looking at you), what Lambley has done here should be commended. Almost everyone with a speaking part had a mic on, something that past productions needed so much. Mics are so hard to get off and on easily, and the production did it in a flash, so hats off to them. The set was also marvelous, effortlessly transforming from a high school to a 40-year-old woman’s kitchen.

As a whole, Freaky Friday hits the emotional beats it needs to hit (and much like a high school student, when it gets emotional, it gets emotional), gives a laugh every once in awhile and delivers some memorable songs. Everyone involved in the production deserves a large round of applause for what they’ve created: a fun little jaunt into an absurd situation which should be hard to make a musical about but was ultimately made to look easy and quite believable.