DISNEY'S FREAKY FRIDAYBased on the Novel Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers, and the Disney Films
Book by: Bridget Carpenter, Music by: Tom Kitt, Lyrics by: Brian Yorkey
Orchestrations by: Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt
Vocal Arrangements by: Carmel Dean and Tom Kitt
Dance Arrangements and Incidental Music by: Tom Kitt
Plaza Theatre Company
Director –G. Aaron Siler
Music Director—Caitlan Leblo
Set Designer – Parker Barrus
Lighting Designer –Cameron Barrus
Sound Designer – G. Aaron Siler
Costume Designer – Emily Warwick
CAST (for reviewed performance)
Ellie Blake—Alexandria Owens
Katherine Blake—Courtney Mitchell
Fletcher Blake—Nicholas Reed
Savannah’s Minions—Marissa Wheat, Sofia Warren
Laurel/Teen Ensemble—Matthew Leake
Torrey/Adam’s Mom—Camille Shaw
Mrs. Luckenbill/Florist/Savannah’s Mom—Brandi Owens
Fish Vendor/Gym Coach/Well’s Dad—Darren Clark
Grandma Helene/Gretchen’s Mom—Shauna Lewis
Grandpa Gordon/Senor O’Brien—Jay A. Cornils
Ms. Meyers/Officer Sitz—Bentleigh Nesbit
Danielle/Mrs. Time—Kelli Price
Dr. Ehrin/Parker’s Dad/Officer Kowalski—Rodney Hudson
Mr. Blumen/Hannah’s Dad/Pastor Bruno—Bob Beck
Eden Barrus, Marissa Wheat, Sofia Warren, Makenna Clark, Kendrick Booth, Maclaine Rhine, Josh McLemore, Cole Wilkerson
Teen Ensemble: Baylee Arledge, Miranda Barrus, Hannah Shufelt, Carson Clay, Kaleb Godwin, Anna Hopper
Reviewed Performance: 9/21/2019
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Mother Katherine, is a successful caterer, who is preparing for her upcoming wedding, and Daughter Ellie is your typical teenager-very concerned about appearances, and is somewhat self-absorbed. Katherine and Ellie often do not get along, causing friction between the two, and complicating their relationship. While they often argue, they each fail to understand the complications that come with their lives.
On the Friday of Katherine’s wedding to Mike, an hourglass (gifted to Ellie from her deceased father) breaks, and causes them to magically switch places. Ellie’s personality takes over Katherine’s body, and Katherine’s personality is now in the body of her daughter-providing humorous dialogue, and observations while dealing with unexpected situations and reactions. As they search to find the matching hourglass which was recently sold to an antique store, so they can “switch back,” Katherine and Ellie realize the difficulties of living in someone else’s shoes. As you can imagine, the witty and humorous dialogue paired with the immense amount of physical comedy provides laugh after laugh in this musical.
Director G. Aaron Siler brought together a talented and large ensemble of characters who worked very well together, and created a magical story that was very reminiscent to modern-day Disney Channel movies. It was impressive to see such a large ensemble take each character and moment of the story and have fun with it. It was apparent that the actors were having a great time on stage. They were very charismatic, and enthusiastic throughout the performance. Plaza Theatre Company’s performance of Disney’s Freaky Friday was the Regional Premiere of this production, and I applaud Mr. Siler’s concept and vision for a “new work.” I am certain that it came with its challenges, but, Mr. Siler brought a flawless production to the stage for audiences. It was enjoyable and amusing to watch. I can certainly see this production becoming a staple in local professional and educational theatre companies. Plaza Theatre Company and Director, G. Aaron Siler has set the bar high, and has definitely delivered with this production.
Set Designer Parker Barrus nicely transformed Plaza Theatre’s in the round space into the many locations within the story. The scenic elements of the production were designed and set very simply, with only the suggestion of locations, and small amounts of detail. In a production such as Disney’s Freaky Friday, each scene is almost set in a different location, which does not allow for quick scenic/location transitions. I felt that Mr. Barrus handled the immense amount of locations present in the story and achieved this with great simplicity. Each time I attend a production at Dudley Hall, I am always amazed by the versatility and level of creativity that the scenic designers possess when working on a production. It is always different, and they are able to make good use of the arena space. I am so jealous of their functional turntable. What a fabulous amenity to have in their theatre space!
Lighting was designed by Cameron Barrus. While there are few things a lighting designer can implement in such a straightforward play, I felt the mood was established and consistent throughout the course of the play. The lighting helped to keep the audience informed of various locations, and brought an element of color and fantasy to the production.
Courtney Mitchell was very remarkable in the role of Katherine Blake. Through facial expressions, voice, and a fantastic sense of comic timing, Ms. Mitchell brought many wonderful moments of humor while assuming the personality of her daughter (played wonderfully by Alexandria Owens). I enjoyed seeing her interpretation and perception of what a teenage girl might be, and was very charismatic on stage. It was evident that Ms. Mitchell had fun playing the role of her daughter, while being put into the wacky teenage situations of love, and the trials and tribulations of adolescence.
Another standout performance was Nicholas Reed in the role of Ellie’s younger brother, Fletcher. From the moment he appeared on stage, he had my attention. Young Mr. Reed brought elements of humor, and innocence to his performance. Mr. Reed is a very talented young man. He singing voice, and his use of dialect with puppetry performances was most impressive. I am confident that Mr. Reed will continue to hone his talents and skills as he matures on stage. I look forward to seeing him in future productions.
Nolan Moralez brought a fantastic performance to the role of Ellie’s crush, Adam. Mr. Moralez has consistent charisma and enthusiasm on stage, and was most enjoyable to watch. Mr. Moralez has a nice, natural presence on stage. I found his performance and character to be most amusing and very likeable. His performance was everything that I would expect from the “cute boy” role in any Disney film.
Overall, the ensemble displayed some excellent chemistry together. The Director and the cast worked well together, both veteran and newer actors. It was a pleasure to see such talented actors, and was among the best I have seen in a large production in a long time. They were a very tight ensemble, and really drew me into the story instantly. I was not sure what to expect when I saw Disney’s Freaky Friday on the Plaza Bill but, I can say with confidence that I greatly enjoyed the production.
Disney’s Freaky Friday is definitely worth seeing. The care for detail is evident in all aspects of the production, and makes for a wonderful and fun experience at the theater. After all, as theatre-goers, what more could desire in a theatrical experience? The answer is an enjoyable and pleasant experience, coupled with an escape from reality. Pair that with some catchy songs written by the same team that wrote Broadway’s Next to Normal, and you have Disney’s Freaky Friday. This show is definitely appropriate for all ages, and will teach a valuable lesson-you never know what it is like to walk in the shoes of someone else. Hurry, you only have one more weekend to catch Disney’s Freaky Friday- then, poof the magic will be gone.
305 S. Anglin St.
Cleburne, TX 76031
Plays through September 28th.
Thursday-Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm
Tickets are $25.00 and $23.00 for seniors 65+, Students (high school/college) are $23.00, and children (12 and under) are $15.00.
For information and to purchase tickets, visit www.plaza-theatre.com or call their box office at 817-202-0600.