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They Got This! NKU’s Disney’s “Freaky Friday”

Review by Liz Eichler of “Freaky Friday”: NKU Theatre

OMG! (Is that still a thing?) #greatjob #NKUSOTA #mustsee theatre

Grab your kids or your mom and head on over to Northern Kentucky University’s “Disney’s Freaky Friday a new Musical.” Playing through Sunday, Nov. 24, it is just the medicine everyone needs to build empathy between kids and parents to better understand the responsibilities of each role. Wonderfully directed by Jamie Strawn, it has great singing, dancing, acting, and a new take on the story you may remember from the movies.

An overworked meticulous wedding planner is planning her own wedding and managing her teenage daughter, who has her own pressures. During a fight they magically swap bodies and must spend a high-stakes day in other’s shoes while searching for a way to reverse the magic. Mom Katherine and daughter Ellie come to appreciate each other’s struggles as they realize their deep love for each other and the others in their changing family. “Freaky Friday” is lively show of emotion, comedy, and some really great performances.

Imagine the acting challenge: you are college student acting as a mom, acting like a teenage daughter, acting like the mom! Blair Lamb and Sarah Hack are mega talented, carry off the nuances well. Extra kudos to Sarah, as she spends more time as the teenager (in mom’s body) grappling with complicated feelings about her younger brother, Fletcher (Charlie Lindeman) especially in the touching “After All of this and Everything.”

The ensemble is rich and diverse, filled with vocal, dancing, and singing talent. Great performances from Jackson Hunt as Mike (the fiancé), Victoria Avery as Torrie (Katherine’s assistant), and Ellie O’Hara as mean girl Savannah. JeShaun Jackson owns the stage in every ensemble role and Kali Marsh also controls the stage in her many roles. Jake Hunter is a convincing boyfriend who maybe worth keeping around, and Andie Angel and Danielle Ullman make great angst-y friends Hannah and Gretchen.  Also in the show are Cian Steele (Parker), Mattison Sullivan (Wells/Fish Vendor), Arianna Catalano (Laurel/Minion), Thomas Smith (Florist/Marquis), Logan Anthony (Louis/Wells’ Dad), Alex Slade (Grandpa Gordon/Mr. Blumen/Senor O Brien/Parker’s Dad/Gym Asst), Megan Carlson (Grandma Helene/Mrs. Luckenbill/Mrs. Time/Gretchen’s Mom), and ensemble members Ethan Brooks Baker, Chloe Hedrick, Kanai Nakata, and Grace Vetter.

A live pit plays the memorable score with Damon Stevens as Musical Director. The creative team includes Anna Catton (Scenic Designer), Isabel Sleczkowski (Props Design/Master), Ronnie Chamberlain (Costume Designer), Mark Brackman (Lighting Designer), Zach Collins (Sound Designer), and Halee Hood (Hair/Makeup Designer).

The whole show looks and feels current, and the students own the fashion, hair, and especially the movement due to Tracey Bonner’s choreography. Great ensemble numbers (“Just One Day”, “I Got This”, “Watch Your Back”, “I’m Not Myself”, “Go”) included gymnastic and balletic skills as well as hip-hop, skateboarding, bike riding, and hoverboard.

This is a great family show, ideal for elementary ages to grandparents. Empathy is a hard thing to teach our kids, but this show not only demonstrates it, but teaches the teachers.  Call the NKY Box Office today at (859)572-5464 or visit http://www.NKU.edu/sotatickets. “Freaky Friday” plays through Nov. 24.