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This ‘Freaky Friday’ features real-life mother and daughter


On stage at Fort Myers Theatre through March 17th is the moving musical comedy Freaky Friday.

An adaptation of the classic novel and beloved films, Freaky Friday follows teenager Ellie Blake and her mother, Katherine, on the weirdest, strangest, craziest, freakiest day of their whole lives. The day before Katherine’s highly-publicized marriage, she and her daughter are magically transported into each other’s bodies. Now they literally have to spend a day walking in each other’s shoes as they try to figure out how to reverse the swap. In the process, they gain understanding and forge a new mother-daughter relationship.

On top of a smart script and up-tempo pop score, this production features the real-life mother-daughter tandem of Marie and Winter Talley. Both are adept actors with smooth, silky vocals whose own mother-daughter relationship informs their portrayals of their respective characters.

Marie Talley will evoke a wistful recollection and even envy from the moms in the audience as she unleashes her inner rebel to reprise the somewhat snarky and unabashedly slackerly edition of the girl she once was before being weighed down by the duties and responsibilities of single parent and sole breadwinner.

Winter Talley has the tougher challenge. Where Marie has the benefit of having lived as a teen, Winter is called upon to channel an older self that is yet to appear in real life.

Sure, she’s aided in this endeavor by the script and clear direction by Michelle Kuntzie, but she must also draw upon her interactions with and observations of her real-life mother, which can be tricky business.

Performing these dual roles give all new meaning to “role playing.”

Although it’s difficult (and perhaps unfair) to single out just one musical number, the Talleys are at their vocal best in the rousing opener “Just One Day,” where mom and daughter set their tortured relationship ablaze and supporting characters are introduced. The number ends with a fateful wrestling match over that magical heirloom hourglass.

Speaking of hourglasses, that’s a wrinkle Hallmark aficionados will pick up. In the film, it’s a Chinese fortune cookie that triggers the switcheroo. In the theater production, it’s an antique hourglass – just as in last Christmas’ hit movie, A Biltmore Christmas, a female screenwriter (Bethany Joy Lenz) is transported back in time to a 1946 movie set when she accidentally knocks over an hourglass.

While the acting, music and theme have broad multi-generational appeal, Freaky Friday is clearly intended to attract a younger and decidedly hipper demographic. As Katherine and Ellie/Marie and Winter jointly sing, “it’s not the finding, it’s the searching; it’s the hunt for who you’ll be” – especially if you toss in a healthy dose of empathy and understanding.

Fort Myers Theatre’s Freaky Friday is not just entertaining. It’s highly satisfying as well.

Go here for remaining play dates and times.

March 9, 2024.


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