The Road to Freaky Friday: New Millennium Bookends

Freaky Friday runs February 21-March 8. Tickets at sunnyvaleplayers.org

The Road to Freaky Friday:
New Millennium Bookends

Over the course of a few weeks, we’re taking a little walk through memory lane to learn all about how Freaky Friday started as a funny little early-70s novel very much of its time to becoming the very sophisticated musical production hitting the Sunnyvale Theatre stage next month. We kicked things off last week with a look at the original 1972 novel by Mary Rogers and the groovy 1976 feature film starring Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris. This week, we’re looking at two key film remakes both before and just after the new millennium… 

1995 TV Film Adaptation

Ever wondered what it would have been like to see “Diane” from Cheers switch bodies with a young Gaby Hoffmann (of Transparent and  Girls fame). Well, look no further than this 1995 television film. This adaptation made a few updates to the original novel, including explaining Ellen and Annabel’s body-switching (magical amulets!) and making Ellen a single mother with a high-profile career in the fashion industry and a new boyfriend. This adaptation does still incorporate some of the “last act” slapstick of the previous film—only the waterskiing sequence is replaced with a diving competition. Of all the film adaptations, this one is the hardest to find (outside of sketchy uploads to YouTube) and isn’t currently available on Disney+.

2003 Film Adaptation

With a new millennium came a new adaptation, which also came with new character names: daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) and mother Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis). This time around, the magical body switch comes courtesy of a supernatural fortune cookie. Young Anna is a disheveled teen with rock star ambitions who resents her mother’s discipline and engagement to soon-to-be stepfather Ryan Volvo. They spend a day in each other’s place (Anna faking her way through a day as a professional therapist and Tess suffering the slings and arrows of high school) until the day culminates in Tess’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Somewhere along the lines, “Anna” sneaks out to play a rock concert while “Tess” supplies a killer guitar solo offstage for “Anna” to mime onstage. Eventually, Anna and Tess wind up back at the rehearsal dinner, express selfless love for one another and they switch back to their normal bodies. This highly successful film adaptation marked a change in the “Freaky Friday” journey, as the relationship between mother and daughter deepened significantly and their struggles became less slapstick-bound (other than the rock star antics) and more relatable. This all set the stage (pun intended) for a fantastic musical adaptation to come.

Next week, we’ll conclude our journey by looking at both the musical theater adaption and its Disney Channel movie counterpart. Stay tuned!  

But you don’t have to wait until then to get your tickets. You don’t want to miss out on getting your choice of seats, so get them now while you still can!

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