BWW Review: FREAKY FRIDAY at Circle Theatre Will Have You Convinced The Leads Swap Was Real!
Freaky Friday is a heartfelt, comedic, and unexpectedly emotional update on an American classic, based on the beloved 1972 novel by Mary Rodgers and the hit Disney films, that was developed by Disney Theatrical Productions expressly for licensing to theatres. Freaky Friday is currently playing until May 18th at Circle Theatre in Grand Rapids. It features a book by Bridget Carpenter, the co-executive producer and writer of the beloved television hits, Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and music and lyrics by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composers of Next to Normal and If/Then. Circle Theatres cast of performers, combined with an awesome orchestra will have you humming the songs for days after, since they are that catchy. You will also be laughing at the many comical moments in the show!
Freaky Friday starts out the show with Ellie (Phoebe Dawson) coming out into the audience and saying she has a strange and unbelievable story that is 100% true. Then her mom, Katherine (Emily Diener), interrupts her and tries to tell the same story... Her mom is getting married to Mike (Larry Young) who she met designing their cabinets. She has a busy life with her own catering busying and designing and catering her own wedding. She is also very frustrated because of how Ellie dresses and her attitude. Her brother Fletcher (Christian Maloley) has no respect for her stuff and starts to play with an hourglass given to her by her father before he passed away, Ellie yells at him, making her mom yell back. Ellie then ask her mom about doing the Hunt, a scavenger hunt that her and her friends Gretchen (Rebekah Levine) and Hannah (Katy Scott) have been planning on for a long time, with a list made by her crush "List Master" Adam (Jake Doctor).
Her mom says no and they get into a huge fight about it and how they don't understand each other. Her mom grabs ahold of the hourglass, which Ellie has in her hand causing it to break and release a magical spell, making them swap bodies. She remembers her dad gave her mom a matching one, which she had sold off to a second-hand shop when they were going through a difficult financial time. They are trying to handle being in the other person's body and living in the other person's life, well trying to switch back, claiming that "I Got This" about spending the day as the other. They are trying to manage an editor who came to write a feature cover story for Weddings Magazine, since she is catering and designing her own, because it will help her business stay afloat.
They spend the morning in each other's bodies and meet at a mandatory parent teacher conference, and then go to the secondhand shop to get the other hourglass, but find out that shop has closed and sold all of its contents to other shops around town. They try to find the hourglass and get it back. Well looking for the hour glass Ellie, in her mom's body's, snaps at Fletcher and tells him "Parents Lie" and that he's never going to make a career with his puppets causing him to run away.
Will Fletcher return? Will Ellie get back to her own body? Will she join her friends on the Hunt as herself? Will Adam find out how she really feels about him, and how he feels about her? Will they find the hour glass to switch back? Will the wedding end up happening? Come see Circle Theatre's production of Freaky Friday running through Saturday, May 18th.
This show is full of music that will seem familiar to you, even if you've never heard it. The leading ladies, Phoebe and Emily do such a good job when they switch off acting like the other person, you can definitely tell they are actresses who studied how one another behaves so one actually would have believed they switched. You also would be amazed by the supporting cast including its youngest member Christian who holds his own against an older teen and adult cast. He has his own dance moves, his own songs, "Shoppin' With My Mom" and "Drivin' With My Mom," and you can't forget his puppets, which he voices without even having to make an effort, and this is his first Circle Theatre production! If you didn't see his interview about the show that's available here: Christian's Interview.
The other unique piece of this show was it was in a thrust/circle type of stage with the seating being half-way around the stage with a normal stage behind them and then two tunnel entrances under the seating. In addition to them entering from those 2 tunnels and back on the main stage, they also make use of the isles up and down a few times throughout the show. With there being no pit for the orchestra for this show, it was really awesome to see it played from behind on the back part of the stage more like a concert with live band and the show on the thrust part in front of them, unlike traditional theatre which would put the musicians in front of the cast, in an orchestra pit. Freaky Friday, at Circle Theatre, is a must see for any Freaky Friday fan or If you enjoyed any of the Freaky Friday films, or televised events, this is sure to be your musical you will want to see in person! The impressive cast and unique staging will have you wanting more and wanting the show to go on, as I must admit I could have easily stayed for another whole act, if they had a third act in the show.
Freaky Friday runs through May 18th at Circle Theatre in Grand Rapids. For more information or tickets, please call 616.456.6656 or visit circletheatre.org.
There is also a special event to say thank you to the mother in your life on Sunday, May 12 at Circle Theatre's VIP Mother's Day Reception. This pre-show special VIP event is free for all mothers and mother figures! Moms will be treated to a complimentary sparkling beverage, flower, and more! Limit 4 people per party, purchase of tickets to the performance of Freaky Friday immediately following the reception required.