“Freaky Friday” is a Freaky Fun Day Any Day

by Kevin M. Thomas, @ReelKev

Well worth an excursion from Los Angeles, or anywhere Broadway musical fans call home, “Freaky Friday” the musical is one of the most upbeat, high energy, image positive shows to come out in a long time. Hopefully its run here is just a step towards Broadway, like La Jolla Playhouse’s “Memphis” which went on to winning a Tony for Best Musical.

La Jolla, just eight minutes from San Diego, is strengthening its reputation in creating Broadway level productions with this current show, extended through March 19.

Based upon the book by Mary Rogers of a mother/daughter who magically switch bodies for a day is a story we all know – whether it’s the baby boomers who remember the 1977 Jodie Foster version or the millennials who remember Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis change places in the 2003 movie. Whichever you remember, or even if it’s new material to you, this “Friday” is fresh and vibrant and leaves its audience wanting more and walking out in jubilation.

Director Christopher Ashley and choreographer Sergio Trujillo have another hit on their hands. I don’t know what these two are making in La Jolla, but they should bottle it.

Most of the credit goes to book writer Bridget Carpenter, who updates the material to current day and slyly address issues of fitting in, body images and school cliques into light hearted material. She is aptly supported by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s witty songs that not only advance the plot but have some of the most clever rhymes that add a fun dimension to their high endergy beats. Songs “Busted,” “Parents Lie” and “Women and Sandwiches” are simply genius. My feet haven’t tapped this much in excitement since Broadway’s “Bring It On,” which also is from a Kitt score.

The ensemble is at the top of their game but they are definitely lead by the terrific pairing of Heidi Blickenstaff and Emma Hunston as mother and daughter. Both seasoned Broadway performers make their La Jolla debut in this production. It’s easy to see why they’ve come here from New York: it’s material that is equally irresistible to perform as it is to watch.

You can see the trust between these actresses as they are essentially both playing the same parts. The way they work off of each other is magic in its truest form. It’s actually one of the best mother/daughter characters the theatre has seen since the Beale’s of ‘Grey Gardens.” Like “Garden,” “Friday” needs the chemistry between the actresses to work and both need to be delivered. Blickenstaff and Hunton are definitely up to the challenge. Combining great physical comedy with deadpan delivery and soaring singing voices, “Friday” is freaking brilliant.

To get tickets and more information, go to www.lajollaplayhouse.org.