Photo by Jim Carmody
Emma Hunton (left) and Heidi Blickenstaff in Freaky Friday
Much like anything Disney, which developed the new musical adaptation of Freaky Friday, the La Jolla Playhouse’s production is sunny and squeaky clean, and its wackiness is couched in feel-good, family-style lesson learning. You know the lesson learners by now after a children’s book, two feature films and a TV-movie: a disconnected mom and daughter who inexplicably find themselves in each other’s body for a day.
This Freaky Friday, directed by Christopher Ashley with a clever book by Bridget Carpenter, updates the familiar premise with scripted messages about teen-girl body image and female empowerment. As enacted by Heidi Blickenstaff and Emma Hunton as mother Katherine and daughter Ellie, respectively, the identity games are comical if not back-slapping, though Blickenstaff’s performance is sensational. Totally tuned in to teenage talk and mannerisms, she makes count every second on stage as the daughter in the mother’s body. Freaky Friday’s music and lyrics by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, however, are a far cry from their towering 2009 Next to Normal collaboration. One number, “Women and Sandwiches,” is outright shuddering, and Freaky Friday’s overly sincere ballads interrupt the antics more than adding layers to the story. Still, this is a show that moms and daughters will enjoy and maybe even bond over. Nothing wrong with that.
Freaky Friday runs through March 12 at La Jolla Playhouse. $25-$70; lajollaplayhouse.org.
Five years after La Jolla Playhouse staged Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s exhausting An Iliad, New Village Arts in Carlsbad is taking a crack at it under the direction of Jacole Kitchen, who assistant-directed two productions at the Playhouse last year. At NVA, Linda Libby is The Poet, a role usually played by a man in An Iliad. (An accompanying double-bass player, in this case Gunnar Biggs, is the only other performer on stage.) Like the Poets before her, Libby breathlessly recounts and re-enacts the blood and guts of the Trojan War, integrating into the 90 or so minutes fatalistic insight into all the world’s wars since. An Iliad, an adaptation of Homer’s epic, unfolds like a grim ancient-history class. At NVA, “Professor” Libby stammers a little but makes her point: war is hell.
An Iliad runs through Feb. 26 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $33-$36; newvillagearts.org
2.5 Minute Ride: Lisa Kron dramatic solo show about her relationship with her father, a Holocaust survivor. It opens in previews Feb. 9 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
Eurydice: Sarah Ruhl’s dramatic retelling of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Presented by the Oceanside Theatre Company, it opens Feb. 10 at the Brooks Theatre in Oceanside. oceansidetheatre.org
Well: The pioneering Broadway comedy about a terminally ill mom who attempts to heal a racially divided community. Directed by Kym Pappas, it opens in previews Feb. 10 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
9 to 5: Based on the classic Dolly Parton movie, this musical tells the tale of three co-workers standing up to their egotistical and sexist male boss. Presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, it opens Feb. 10 at the Spreckels Theatre in the Gaslamp. sdmt.org
Bad Jews: Three Jewish cousins feud over a family heirloom at their grandmother’s funeral in this comedy by Joshua Harmon. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Feb. 12 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Beau Jest: A comical romp about a young woman who hires an actor in order to convince her parents that she’s engaged to a Jewish doctor. Written by James Sherman, it runs through Feb. 12 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Altar Boyz: A musical parody about a fictional Christian boy band on the last night of their tour. Written by Kevin Del Aguila, it runs through Feb. 19 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
What the Butler Saw: A psychiatrist tries to seduce a receptionist and hilarity ensues in Joe Orton’s classic British farce. Directed by Keith Anderson, it runs through Feb. 19 at Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com
Good People: A struggling woman in south Boston hopes her life will get better when she meets up with an old flame in David Lindsay-Abaire’s drama. Presented by Scripps Ranch Theatre, it runs through Feb. 26 at the Legler Benbough Theatre in Scripps Ranch.
An Iliad: In a clever take on Homer’s classic, a single narrator recounts humankind’s long history of conflict and violence. Written by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, it runs through Feb. 26 at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
Mothers and Sons: The San Diego premiere of Terrence McNally’s drama about a mother who visits her late son’s partner only to discover that he’s now a married father. It runs through Feb. 26 at POWPAC Community Theatre in Poway. powpac.org
Freaky Friday: The musical comedy based on the Disney movie about a mother and daughter who swap bodies for a day. Directed by Christopher Ashley, it runs through March 12 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
Perfect Arrangement: Two employees are tasked with identifying sexual deviants in the ‘50s U.S. State Department during the Red Scare. Problem is that they’re both gay. It runs through March 12 at the Horton Grand Theatre in the Gaslamp. intrepidtheatre.org
Picasso at the Lapin Agile: Set inside a bar in 1904 Paris, this comedy features Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso discussing art, science and everything in between with the locals. Written by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin), it runs through March 12 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Urinetown: After a 20-year drought, the government bans all private toilets and, as expected, the shit hits the fan in this Tony-winning satire. Directed by Jennie Gray Connard, it runs through March 12 at the O.B. Playhouse in Ocean Beach. obtheatrecompany.com