broadway,  Reviews

The Horizon Theatre Company’s Freaky Friday

The Horizon Theatre Company Presents: ‘Freaky Friday’

‘Freaky Friday, the best Disney musical that never went to Broadway.’

Disney is a juggernaut in every medium of entertainment, from screen to stage. From shows like Aida, The Lion King, Aladdin, and Frozen, but there are a few that didn’t make it to Broadway that are brilliant. Freaky Friday is honestly just a good show, often you’ll see shows with incredible music but with a disconcertingly bad book. I’ve even seen my share of shows that just don’t make sense, but the music is brilliant, so we forgive the book, but Freaky Friday is the opposite.

Disney somehow assembled the perfect group to write this show. The music and lyrics were written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, these are the minds that brought us ‘If/Then’, ‘Next to Normal’, ‘13 Reasons Why’ on Netflix and ‘Bring it on’, both separately and together. Then they rounded out this team with writer, Bridget Carpenter, who wrote on ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘Parenthood’. I don’t know if anyone would’ve predicted these writing styles gelling as much as they do but I love this team.

The Horizon Theatre made a genius move in selecting this show to be apart of its season. Their audience spans generation which means some people would remember the book and movie from the 70s and others, like me, would remember the remake from 2003. Then its completely flipped because its plot is completely different from any other incarnation of this story. You enter knowing the initial actions of the story but then the audience is put on a roller coaster together making it a better audience experience. I love the directing of this show, Heidi Cline McKerley cultivated an immaculate production!

It also says a lot about this show that I wouldn’t work as effectively in a 2-3,000 seat theatre. This show works best in an intimate space, it brings you into this world brilliantly. You feel like you’re travelling with these. If you sit at the edge of your row like I did, an actor might even come sit next to you, or have a scene nearby. So close that you begin to appreciate the performances they’re giving. They’re close enough to give you a high five and even hold a conversation with you.

You also begin to appreciate these voices! Watching Juan Carlos Unzueta belt in your face is great, honestly my favorite part of seeing him in a show, his voice is unbelievable. Abby Holland and Jennifer Alice Acker are giving you full belt and you’re just in awe because they’re so close to you. It’s that moment you realize these are actors that can hear you and see you. If you take out your phone during the show, they can see you so don’t do that (it’s just disrespectful). I could go on and on about how much I love the intimacy.

Also, these people are close to you and are working, feed them! Every performance is better with a great audience, period, without fail. Give them energy to feed from because when they have that extra boost the show is naturally elevated. Cheer them on, clap, smile at them, be just as present as they must be.

Freaky Friday is an ensemble show, in every form of the word and I was living for these performances. I just must shout out this ensemble, it doesn’t get any better than this casting. I’ve seen most of these actors in starring roles and they’re just as good here. One of my favorite things to do during a show is “ensemble watching”. I know someone just thought isn’t that what going to a show is anyway? Yes, but a little differently.

I like to watch people when they aren’t the center of attention. Acting is reacting, with this show you get the best ensemble reactions I’ve ever seen. At every turn they’re on it, making choices and being hilarious. I will admit though, it’s hard to take your eyes off the belting Queens that are Abby Holland and Jennifer Alice Acker, but just try it throughout the show. you’ll see these golden moments that are just great in the show as early as the opening number.

Everyone in the show plays multiple characters so in the character breakdown I’ll only touch on four different actors, so it’s time to appreciate this ensemble! The women of this show are some of the most talented in Atlanta theatre. Dancing and singing for their entire lives during the show! Just watch some of the interactions they have in this world, Daniella Cobb, Hannah Lake, and Randi Garza are also hilarious in every way.

Brittani Minnieweather and Jill Hames are geniuses, I will bow down to these women. I’m not a person that ever really laughs during shows but every time they were onstage, I was laughing a little too hard. And for when you see the show, during act two at the water fountain, just cheer! Cheer for these women and men living their best lives! In an appearance-based industry it’s so easy to be self-conscious even If you have the best body in the world, Cheer, applauded, and shower these gorgeous people with love! From playing school kids, teachers, even grandparents all of them are just on it. They are really the heartbeat of this show.

But wait… there’s more! Shout out to the male ensemble! Y’all better work it out fam! I will forever be a Juan Carlos Unzueta fan cause he’s always representing for the big guys! Juan is dancing for his ENTIRE life! This cast is getting in this choreography like it’s nothing, that alone deserved all the applause they can get. Yes family, simply YES! Now let’s get into the breakdown!

Joseph Masson as Fletcher: He’s evidence that you’re not too young to do it right! He was in the scene and reacting even when he wasn’t the focus. That’s the most important part of acting and he had it down! His character was really well formed, and I enjoyed a lot of his choices.

Frank Faucette as Mike: He’s an NYU grad acting graduate so this won’t come as a surprise, but I liked the choices he made in the show. It was just a realistic take on someone amid a wedding and about to take on a new world of responsibilities. His character just seemed ready for a new life. All these choices were implicit by the way, there isn’t much of a backstory given to his character, but he made it work.

Christian Magby as Adam: Is it that far off base for Christian to play a heartthrob? Christian just has the best reaction faces in regional theatre. Every time I see him, I specifically watch what his face is doing. His comedic timing is impeccable and as an actor it’s annoying to watch someone be so good. On top of the comedic timing, his voice is just stupid. He’s the leading man archetype, he’s giving Norm Lewis tone with a ridiculous tenor range, it’s ridiculous I know,Go see him be hilarious.

Abby Holland as Ellie: Sing girl sing! I am now a fan of Abby. I’ll go see anything she’s in from now on because I love her in this role so much. She’s gorgeous, gives a great performance, and her voice is insane. A lot of her actions in scene where shifted towards where I was sitting so I spent a lot of time watching her. There’s not much more I can say about this performance besides I loved it. There was a clear separation between her character and her mother’s character when they switch bodies.

Jennifer Alice Acker as Katherine: I spend a lot of time wondering what this woman can’t do. There were moments where if I had multiple pairs of shoes to throw they would’ve been thrown per song. SINGING FOR HER CHECK CHILDREN! Giving you a soprano belt, the entire show just giving it all and I loved every moment. Her choices are just everything, she’s physical comedy goals! Just brilliant in everything. She’s an actual comedic genius and is the prime example of your local actors that are incredible. She’s honestly a force to be reckoned with and unlike any other performer I’ve seen. AHHHH she’s just incredible and one of the sweetest people you’d wish to meet.

Freaky Friday will play at Horizon Theatre March 9 – April 22. Ticket prices start at $25 and may be purchased online at bit.ly/TicketsHorizonTheatre or by calling the Box Office at 404.523.1477 x100. For more information on individual ticket sales or group rates, please visit bit.ly/FreakyFridayHorizon or e-mail groups@horizontheatre.com.

Regular show times are as follows:

  • Wednesday-Friday: 8 p.m.
  • Saturday: 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. *no matinee performance on Saturday, March 10
  • Sunday: 5 p.m.

Guests should note that the show contains theatrical smoke haze, strobe lights and contains mature content recommended for ages 10 and up.

Handicap seating is available but limited; advance reservations required.

 

 

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