Theater

'Freaky Friday' showcases McHenry County talent

Musical comedy runs through Sept. 1 at Raue Center for the Arts

Looking in the mirror and realizing you’re in your mother’s body is something to sing about. Williams Street Rep, Raue Center for the Arts’ in-house theater company, presents “Disney’s Freaky Friday: A New Musical.”

The musical comedy features a mother and her teenage daughter who swap bodies for a day on the eve of Mom’s big wedding day, making for a freaky Friday indeed.

The musical is based on the 1972 novel by Mary Rodgers. The story was adapted for the big screen in 1976, starring Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris, and again in 2003, starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis.

By Bridget Carpenter with a score by the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey of “Next to Normal,” the stage musical premiered in 2016, starring Heidi Blickenstaff and Emma Hunton. The TV musical version premiered on the Disney Channel earlier this month, with Blickenstaff reprising her original stage role as the type A mother character, Katherine Blake.

“Freaky Friday” made its Raue and Chicago-area debut on Aug. 2. The show is directed by Kent M. Lewis, with musical direction by Evan Swanson and choreography by Natalie Wisdom.

Richmond-Burton Community High School graduate and Wonder Lake resident Catherine Yore made her Raue debut, taking on the role of Katherine Blake alongside daughter character Ellie, played by Jordan Nazos. Playing an angsty teenager in an adult body is no small challenge.

“Fully embodying both characters when I’m playing the mother as the daughter is challenging,” Yore said. “I have to be conscientious of my physicality and my vocal patterns because they are two very different, very distinct characters. It’s been so much fun.”

Yore said it’s the type of show that doesn’t stop.

“It’s go, go, go, from the moment it starts. There’s no pause,” she said.

Justice Good, 23, of Fox River Grove is part of the show’s ensemble cast. This is Good’s fifth production with Williams Street Rep, who previously had roles in “Ring of Fire,” “Bomber’s Moon,” “Emma! A Pop Musical” and “The Elephant Man.” He said he found his first time on the Raue stage to be his most challenging.

“Two weeks after graduating college, I was cast as a male understudy for ‘Ring of Fire’ at the Raue,” Good said. “I was added very late in the process and had to learn about 20 songs with a host of blocking and lines in roughly one week. It was extremely difficult, yet I am so thankful to everybody at the Raue, and grateful to have had that role as my introduction to professional theater.”

Good said he felt a bit nostalgic about the “Freaky Friday” production.

“The best part about performing in this production is the thrill of being in the stage adaption of a movie that was such a big part of my generation’s childhood,” Good said. “Disney musicals are always packed with fantastic music and storytelling, and ‘Freaky Friday’ is no exception.

“People should see this show because the story is universal and is one that all generations can relate to. It’s filled with moments of laugh-out-loud humor and heartfelt dynamics seen within a family. The entire ensemble is extremely talented, and this is an outstanding production that should not be missed.”

Crystal Lake resident Brandi Witt frequents the Raue Center and saw the Aug. 9 performance. Her 12-year-old daughter, May, and May’s good friend were in tow. Witt said the girls loved the show every bit as much as she did.

“The show was absolutely amazing,” Witt said. “The quality of talent onstage left me speechless. The balance between the actors’ voices and the live band was simply phenomenal.

“I had moments of belly-aching laughter, moments of tears and so much foot tapping my ankle was actually sore the next day. I never once glanced at my watch or got antsy. It’s nonstop entertainment that was wonderful to share with two seventh-grade girls.”

Witt said the traditional feel and intimate setting of the Raue keeps bringing her back.

“I love the traditional theater feel, the greeters and box office staff, the small setting that feels intimate without being claustrophobic,” Witt said. “It’s simply beautiful. It feels just like an evening at a theater in the city without the crowds and hassle of being in downtown Chicago.”

Witt said she soon will be back in the audience, as she looks forward to the upcoming WSRep presentation of “The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy,” opening Sept. 27.

“Freaky Friday” runs through
Sept. 1. Tickets can be bought at rauecenter.org or through the Raue Center box office.

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