Lifestyles Theater

Freaky Friday: The Musical brings message of empathy

It’s a story with a message as relevant today as it was when it was written 50 years ago.

You can’t understand someone unless you walk a mile in their shoes or switch bodies with them for a day as in the case of Freaky Friday: The Musical which the Augusta JR Players will bring to the stage June 15-17.

What sets this version apart from the multiple film adaptations of the 1972 Mary Rodgers’ book is its music, according to cast members.

“The songs speak so much of the message,” said Mary Bryson Wright, who plays Ellie, a rebellious 16-year-old who switches bodies with her mom, Katherine, played by Lucy Tomeo.

The songs are an extension of the play with their lyrics adding insight into the mind of the characters and advancing the plot.

Snippets of a rehearsal for Freaky Friday: The Musical

With its overarching theme of empathy, the play has prompted its two leads to examine what that means to an even higher level.

“I’ve always considered myself empathetic, but this has helped me even more,” said Wright.

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Both Tomeo and Wright said they’ve found themselves paying more attention to other people and their body language and the way they act, wondering what they might be going through. They’ve also spent a lot of time studying each other’s actions and movements to be able to mirror one another when their characters do the body switch.

 And although the two of them attended John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, they never really got to perform together until Freaky Friday: The Musical. Tomeo recently graduated.

“They’re amazing,” said Roy Lewis, the show’s director, of the two leads.

Lewis hopes all 45 of the cast and crew in the show leave the play with more than just a good stage experience.

To reinforce the idea of empathy as well as highlight another one of the show’s themes – family relationships, Lewis has encouraged the actors to spend more time talking with their parents and learning what it’s like to spend a day in their shoes.

“Family relationships are more important than anything else,” he said.

The show features fun moments as well as more tender ones and is a heartwarming show for Father’s Day weekend.

Freaky Friday: The Musical will be performed at 7 p.m. June 15-17 at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. Tickets are $10-$20 with discounts for students, senior citizens and students and are available through the Augusta Players website.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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