Review: Loudoun Valley’s ‘Freaky Friday’

By Anna Gillespie, South Lakes High School

“Today and everyday” Loudoun Valley will blow the audience away with their spectacular production of Freaky Friday!

Based on the 1976 and 2003 adaptations of Mary Rodgers’ 1972 novel, all of the same name, the classic story hit the stage for the first time in 2016 at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. With music and lyrics by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey and a book by Bridget Carpenter, the show played in San Diego, Cleveland, and Houston throughout 2017, before becoming a Disney Channel Original Movie in August 2018.

When an exhausted mother and her misunderstood teenage daughter magically swap bodies, they are forced to walk a day in each other’s shoes. After experiencing the trials and tribulations of each other’s everyday lives, they reach a point of acceptance, realizing the mutual respect and immense love between mother and daughter.

The true heart and soul of the show was the bond between Katherine (Sophie Stapleton) and her daughter Ellie (Claire Trochlil). Though the two were presented with the challenge of two characters in the same show, both Stapleton and Trochlil took it in stride, assigning separate mannerisms, speech patterns, and distinct posture to each character. The two also showcased their comedic chops as they seamlessly moved from character to character, nailing the awkwardness of their current reality, specifically Katherine as Ellie’s delayed reaction to current slang and pop culture references and Ellie as Katherine’s complete lack of knowledge on the wedding industry. Additionally, both Stapleton and Trochlil delivered stunning vocals, easily filling the theatre and leading the show as a powerhouse duo.

Bryan Ly played the character of Ada, with a cocky, yet somehow charming, confidence. His ability to deliver amusing comedy as well as create meaningful bonds, as noted in his scenes with Fletcher (Francesca Fiorello), was admirable. A hilarious standout emerged in Genevieve Howley’s portrayal of Katherine’s perfectly panicked assistant Torrey. Especially after the switch, she provides a wonderful, high strung opposition to Ellie as Katherine’s newly relaxed personality, Torrey’s stress levels rising by the second. She was on point the entire production, with excellent facial expressions and a consistently quick tempo.

Also of note was Emma York’s portrayal of Danielle, the reporter covering the Blake-Reynolds wedding for the cover of Weddings Magazine. Her high energy pushed the rest of the cast to match her and her dancing, especially in “What You Got” was eye-catching and full of spunk.

The technical elements of Freaky Friday were top-notch, urging the show into the world of this mother and daughter pair. Their main sets, cleverly painted onto wheeled upright triangular prisms, were done very cleanly in a bold pop art style with bright colors, the shape and nature of the pieces allowing for quick and quiet scene changes. Additionally, the lighting team pulled every trick out of the bag, showcasing projections as well as colored lights to represent each character, notably pink and blue light for Katherine and Ellie during both switches. Commendation must be given to the props team, as they created and found over 80 props, including the spinning frog trays in “Oh Biology”, the infamous hourglass, and the wedding cake.

“After all of this and everything”, Loudoun Valley High School should be nothing but proud of their show stopping production of Freaky Friday.

[This review of the April 6 performance at Loudoun Valley High School  is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now and The Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theatre and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]

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