Musical version of the Disney film fun for the whole family

Disney’s Freaky Friday the Musical is, simply put, just a lot of fun. Appropriately, I went to see it with my daughter, who vividly remembers the 2003 Lindsey Lohan/Jamie Lee Curtis version. I am ancient enough to remember seeing it in the theater in the ’70s as a child, though all I can really remember is being there. But the basic plot in every version is the same: a mom and daughter switch bodies with each other, achieve a greater mutual understanding, and (spoiler alert) switch back to being themselves at the end.

This musical version now playing at the Aurora Fox is fast-paced and features some major plot updates. Mom Katherine (Sharon Kay White) and daughter Ellie (Hanna Estelle Dotson) switch bodies via a giant hourglass (not the problematic fortune cookie of the 2003 version). Katherine has an event planning business, is on the verge of getting married, and hopes to have her wedding featured prominently in the media. Ellie wants to participate in a scavenger-hunt-type event (officiated by her crush) on the same night as the rehearsal dinner. When they switch bodies, they each realize that the other has a life more complicated and difficult than they had imagined.

High school friendships and social politics are difficult for mom, and work and family are difficult for daughter — as mom. This gets confusing on paper, but onstage it all makes sense. When Katherine and Ellie discover that the giant hourglass they need is likely at an antique store, they realize that their goals might just be compatible after all. If Ellie participates in the scavenger hunt, perhaps they can find the hourglass and switch themselves back in time for Katherine to get married.

Freaky Friday is fast-paced and full of lively song and dance numbers. Choreographer Jessica Hindsley does an excellent job here, and the very able cast is always on the move. The staging is also very fun and engaging, with screen elements that coincide well with the picture-themed scavenger hunt. Ellie’s crush Adam (Alton Tanega) provides some good laughs with his media-obsessed nature, which is reflected on the screens on the side of the stage.

Katherine and Ellie do the heavy-lifting as far as acting is concerned, and both turn in good performances. But Ellie’s little brother Fletcher (played by Tucker McTaggart in the performance I saw, and on alternate nights by Macaelle Vasquez) almost steals the show. The audience loved him, and he has some of the best lines. He performs them well too, with enough personality for any 10 kids.

Speaking of kids, there were quite a few at the performance. I wondered whether a show that is mostly about a mom and teenage daughter would hold their interest, but they appeared to be very engaged throughout. I think the fast pace and high-energy cast can entertain all ages. Fortunately, it hits the sweet spot where adults are entertained by the plot elements that the kids don’t pick up on. That makes Freaky Friday a good bet for the whole family.