BWW Review: FREAKY FRIDAY at North Shore Music Theatre
Disney's Freaky Friday just opened at North Shore Music Theatre.
Based on the 1972 novel by Mary Rodgers. It was then made into a movie by Disney in 1976 staring Jody Foster and Barbara Harris, with a less memorable movie remake in 2018. It is now a newly created, fun family musical with all the bells and whistles.
The story centers around a teenage girl (Ellie) brilliantly portrayed by Lindsay Joan, and her, widowed over-worked, mother (Katherine) equally brilliant in her portrayal, is Laurie Wells, who are increasingly at odds over not understanding the other's life, pressures, needs and wants. On the day before (Katherine) is to be remarried, mother and daughter are fighting over who has it harder in her life, and how they wish each, could take the others place for a day, and they sing about it in the terrific number "Just One Day". At the same time, in true Disney fashion, they also fight over, and break a magic hour glass, left to Ellie by her late father, and as the struggle ensues they magically change bodies. The rest of the story revolves around the things they learn and rediscover about themselves, and each other by spending a day experiencing each other's lives, and creating and solving problems for each other.
There are numerous excellent performances starting with Ms. Joan and Ms. Wells who have great chemistry and are very convincing when they switch roles. Both have excellent voices and are excellent actresses. Another standout in the cast is (Adam) Ellie's crush, portrayed by Gerald Caesar. He has an incredible natural stage presence, and crushes it as a triple threat (Singing, Acting, and Dancing). Jake Ryan Flynn was adorable as (Fletcher) Katherine's son, who is trying to find his own way after his father's death, by coping with the world through the use of hand puppets. In every aspect he holds his own with the adults onstage and gave a stellar performance.
Sean Hayden as (Mike), was a sympathetic and understanding fiancé, and soon to be stepfather. He has an outstanding voice, and his portrayal fit perfectly into the storyline.
David Coffee was amazing and hillarious, in not one, but four different character roles, including a crotchety "grandmother type" shopkeeper, dressed in drag.
The production is very well directed by NSMT veteran Gabriel Barre leading an excellent creative team. The ensemble was fantastic throughout, and kudos to the non-traditional casting.
As for the musical not every song is a hit , one in particular titled "Women and Sandwiches" would do well to be dropped or replaced from the show, and there is some work that needs to be done to the book to tighten up the overall production. But to fans of Disney, and folks looking for a great family night out, this one's for you!!
The cast of Disney's FREAKY FRIDAY is led by Laurie Wells (Katherine) and Lindsay Joan (Ellie), along with Lindsey Alley (Torrey), Gerald Caesar (Adam), Annabelle Fox (Savannah), and Sean Hayden (Mike), with Jake Ryan Flynn and AJ Scott sharing the role of Fletcher.
The cast of 23 will also include Bernie Baldassaro, David Coffee (Grandpa), Briana Fallon (Gretchen), Adam Flagella, Aneesa Folds, Megan Glogower, Cassandra Hlong (Hannah), Michael Hoey, Mary Jo McConnell (Grandma), Drew Porrett, Rosalia Saver, Alyssa Sarnoff, Bart Shatto, Tara Tagliaferro, and JR Whittington.
The creative team for Disney's FREAKY FRIDAY includes Gabriel Barre (Director), Jennifer Paulson-Lee (Choreographer), Jeff Saver (Music Director), Kyle Dixon,(Scenic Design), Kelly Baker (Costume Coordination), Jose Santiago (Lighting Design), Daryl Bornstein (Sound Design), Rachel Padula-Shufelt (Wig and Hair Design), Natalie A. Lynch (Production Stage Manager), Dakotah Wiley Horan (Assistant Stage Manager), and Robert L. Rucinski (Assistant Music Director). Disney's FREAKY FRIDAY is produced for North Shore Music Theatre by Bill Hanney (Owner/Producer), Kevin P. Hill (Producing Artistic Director), and Matthew Chappell (Associate Producer, Casting Director).
Tickets for Disney's FREAKY FRIDAY are priced starting from $61 - $88. Kids 18 and under save 50%. Performances are July 9 - July 21, Tue - Thurs at 7:30 pm, Fri & Sat at 8 pm, matinees Wed, Sat and Sun at 2 pm. For tickets and information call (978) 232-7200, visit nsmt.org, or visit the box office at 62 Dunham Rd., Beverly, MA.
Additional Free Audience Enrichment events: Meet the Theatre: post-show audience discussion with the artists on July 16 after the 7:30 pm performance and July 20after the 2 pm performance; OUT at the North Shore, an evening for the LGBTQ+ Community with a post-show reception on July 18 after the 7:30 pm performance. OUT at the North Shore is sponsored by North Shore Pride.
North Shore Music Theatre will continue the 2019 Musical Season with Jersey Boys (August 6 - September 1), Sunset Boulevard (September 24 - October 6), The Bodyguard (October 29 - November 10), and the 29th annual production of A Christmas Carol starring David Coffee (December 6 - December 22).
Since opening in 1955, NSMT has become one of the most attended theatres in New England, with approximately 250,000 patrons annually. With a national and regional reputation for artistic achievement, NSMT has received numerous industry awards including Elliot Norton Awards, IRNE Awards, the Rosetta Le Noire Award from Actors' Equity, and the Moss Hart Award. NSMT produced the World Premiere of 'Memphis' in 2003, the show went on to win four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Under the new ownership of Bill Hanney since 2010, NSMT continues to annually produce a musical subscription series and an annual production of 'A Christmas Carol' along with celebrity concerts, children's programming and year-round education classes for children and adults.