I am one of those strange people who actually really loves ice breaker games when you meet new people. Whenever it is on the first day of school, in a youth club, at an event etc I enjoy getting to know new people (or just love talking about myself I can’t quite decide) but I know for more people these are the most uncomfortable and painful minutes of the day. While I enjoy the more activity games/activities, I also enjoy just simply asking questions to get to know each other and one that comes up a lot is the classic “if you could swap bodies with anyone who would it be?” I have given it a lot of thought and I think I would like to swap bodies with Tom Cruise as he is a very attractive man who people would recognise but also is very talented at acting/directing which is something I am not that great at myself. The thing about this question that stumps a lot of people is the idea of seeing the world through someone else eyes and living their life for however long this switch has to take place. You may think that your favourite celebrity or friend etc lives an easy life but it’s only when you spend a day in their shoes you can see truly what their life is like! The is the central idea to the 2017 Disney musical ‘Freaky Friday.’
The story is based on the novel by Mary Rodgers and Disney movie of the same name where a teenage daughter (played by Emma Hunton who was Martha in Sonny with a chance) and her overworked mother (played by Heidi Blickenstaff) magically swap bodies and are given the opportunity to see the struggles and hardship they both face on a daily basis but they also have the added pressure that the mother wedding is only a day away so they must resolve this body-switching before the wedding. The extra layer is a clever inclusion as it adds a bit of tension to the story which in turn creates more excitement for the audience to experience! Through this journey, the mother learns that friendships, school and puberty are not as easy as she remembers and the daughter learns about all the stresses that being a mother contains. In one of my recent reviews, I talked about how we view mothers are untouchable superhero’s but they are just people just like us (if you are interested in reading more about this topic you can check out my review of the Moms the Musical Investor Workshop here – https://rhysreviews.com/2021/07/25/moms-the-musical-workshop-review/) It is abundantly clear that this is a Disney musical due to the over-the-topness of the characters. They are almost absolute stereotypes of a mother and a teenager who experience a revelation and learn to appreciate each other more. The show ends in your typical Disney way with a happy ending and a wedding which was a pretty fun way to tie the whole show together.
The opening number in this musical is titled “Just One Day” which is your classical upbeat, musical theatre song. It is crammed full of energy and sets up the contrasting lives between the mother and daughter. Both performers were given solos within the song to explain who they are and what they think of the other which was a great way to build the characters and establish the contrast of lives. It also mentions the upcoming wedding which adds to the idea of excitement and tension I talked about earlier. However, I was a bit confused by this number as despite how energetic and upbeat it was the lyrics were fairly negative and almost moaning which didn’t fit the music underscoring it. I was instantly excited by the start of “what you got” as it sounded fairly similar to the piano trill that appears at the beginning of Gloria Gaynor’s hit song “I will survive” (which is one of my all-time favourites!) Like “I will survive”, “what you got” starts off fairly subdued but has a massive build-up in energy throughout the song. One of my favourite tracks in this album would have to be “Oh Biology” which is a song told through the mother perspective as the daughter. She essentially talks about confusing puberty is and how she is developing feelings for the class clown which she knows she totally should not be doing as they are incredibly annoying. The song has a constant air of energy which is a super infectious beat that makes this song stand out from the rest of the numbers on this album!
It’s not all doom and gloom in this musical as they are numerous hilarious moments/songs scattered throughout the recording. “Busted” was a super fun song about each character finding out about hidden secrets that their relatives possess (such as mom smokes and the daughter has a tattoo) and I imagine this scene would be even more fun to watch live due to the physical comedy of finding these things. Despite how honest the song “parents lie” is there was still a layer of comedy within the song as the characters discuss how parents lie to their kids but always have their best intentions at heart. This song contained one of my favourite lyrics in the show where it was said that “parents lie like rugs” which I found equal parts clever and true! The song “Women and Sandwiches” is a completely comedic and satirical song that I enjoyed! It cleverly compares women to the food with some amazing metaphors but maintained the jovial mature throughout. Jason Gotay and Jake Heston Miller worked well together in this duet and delivered the jazzy number incredibly well. I also really enjoyed the fact that they acknowledged halfway through the number that the metaphor had just been dropped and they were simply just talking about women. Towards the end of the album, we go back to the more reflective and emotionally powerful songs such as “bring my (baby) brother back home” which was a beautiful song with all the voices working flawlessly together with some of the best vocal runs I have heard in a long, long time! The song “Go” was another tear-jerker as the song discusses loving yourself, deals with the ideas surrounding body image and believing in yourself which is always a fantastic message to include!
Overall this is a fun musical that encourages its listeners to be more compassionate and sympathetic towards others. The songs contain some very clever lyrics as well as having catchy musical motifs throughout. I would rate this show 4 out of 5 stars!