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BWW Review: FREAKY FRIDAY at the SCERA is Vivacious

FREAKY FRIDAY plays through February 20, 2021.

BWW Review: FREAKY FRIDAY at the SCERA is Vivacious

FREAKY FRIDAY, presented by the SCERA's nationally award-winning high school performing team, Acting Up!, is a cut above the average high school performance. It is a vivacious, thoroughly enjoyable production on any level.

FREAKY FRIDAY (book by Bridget Carpenter, music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Brian Yorkey) is based on the novel by Mary Rodgers and the favorite Disney films (1976, 1995, and 2003). The stage musical was in turn adapted into an enjoyable Disney Channel movie in 2018. The ear-wormy score from the composer and lyricist of NEXT TO NORMAL contains many gems, including upbeat pop numbers and emotional character songs.

Katherine Blake, who is stressed catering her own wedding and making it picture perfect for a potential magazine spread, is frustrated with her daughter, Ellie, who is sullen and sloppy but equally frustrated with her mom for her lack of empathy. When they unexpectedly and mysteriously switch bodies the day before the wedding, they have to learn to walk in each other's shoes for a day until they can figure out how to switch back.

Ella Child as Katherine is an astounding young talent with a very strong singing voice that maneuvers the complex pop stylings of the score with ease. Haven McGee as Ellie is another phenomenal vocalist, and the two are well matched for each other. They are both equally successful in playing the mannerisms of both mother and daughter.

Two other impressive cast members who should be singled out include Brady Garner as Ellie's romantic interest Adam, who has a suave but down-to-earth likability, and Cade Hixson, who is completely realistic as her younger brother, Fletcher.

As a rule, the cast members (especially the leads) constantly push vocally and emotionally, which makes for an energetic show but can also at times be exhausting. Finding key moments to dial back could help the relationships feel a bit more genuine and unaffected.

The success of the performers portraying adult characters comes with mixed results, as expected due to their age, but they handle the challenge well. Conversely, the authenticity that comes from seeing high school halls onstage populated by actual age-appropriate high school students is very cool. In addition, the ensemble singing throughout the show is quite impressive, thanks to the music direction of director Kathryn Laycock Little.

The bright, stylish costumes by Brodee Ripple (also pulling double duty as the creator of the fun choreography) and lighting by Elizabeth Griffeths give a modern sheen to the production.

The well-designed and constructed unit set by Shawn M. Herrera is anchored by a functional home kitchen on one end and a locker-filled school hallway on the other. It is not only pleasing to look at and versatile for every needed setting, but it serves as a symbolic representation of the mother and daughter, who come from very different places but learn to come together in empathy.

Precautions at the venue include a mask requirement, reduced capacity, distanced seating, extra sanitation measures, hand sanitizer stations, distancing markers and signage, and temperatures taken of cast and staff daily.

FREAKY FRIDAY plays through February 20, 2021. For tickets, call the box office at 801-225-ARTS (2787) or visit www.scera.org.

Photo Credit: L-R Ella Child (Katherine) and Haven McGee (Ellie). Photo by Rachael Gibson.


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From This Author Tyler Hinton