The Cast of the New Freaky Friday Spills All the Tea on the MUSICAL Film
Freaky Friday quickly became one of our most favorite childhood movies. Right alongside The Parent Trap and The Lizzie McGuire Movie, we fell in love with story’s premise and message. And now, Disney Channel is tapping back into those nostalgic days with a new version of Freaky Friday premiering on August 10. Here’s the twist: it’s a musical!
The musical version of Freaky Friday was originally written for the stage, premiering at Signature Theatre in Virginia in 2016 with its eyes set on a Broadway run. But then, upon the musical’s success, Disney decided to transform the stage production into a new original television production. And trust us when we say that you’re going to absolutely love it.
“The music is so powerful. It has such great lyrics and composition,” says Dara Reneé, who plays the role of Savannah, Freaky Friday‘s resident mean girl. “And also, the storyline: Understand that we all have separate, different roles [in life], but we need to understand that this person still goes through a tough time even though they’re in a different position and this person [too]. It’s fun for the whole family.”
This is Dara’s first huge movie role and she couldn’t be more excited to be joining the Disney team.
She tells us, “Mickey Mouse has been treating me well, okay?! This couldn’t have been a better starting point. Being able to experience this at such a young age, I’m very grateful for that. I invited my whole family to come and watch the premiere and all of them wore T-shirts with my face on it. They’re all about to have a big screening at the church for all the youths too.”
Dara is the truest Freaky Friday film buff out there. She recalls her mom telling her that, when she was younger, she had a slumber party with all of her friends to watch the 1972 version. So when the 2003 version with Lindsay Lohan came out, Dara did the same. “Now, my whole family’s gonna have a slumber party with my version!” she reveals. And as a Lindsay stan herself, just like us, Dara is so excited for Linday’s new reality show on MTV. “I’m interested. I’m interested to see [what Lindsay’s up to]. What’s my homegirl doing?”
Alongside Dara is an amazing cast that Disney has brought together to breathe life into this script. Among them is Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who plays the leading role of Ellie Blake. Her mother, Katherine Blake, is played by Broadway favorite Heidi Blickenstaff. The two not only love each other immensely on screen, but off screen as well. (“She’s just a dreamboat,” Heidi tells us about Cozi)
“It was unbelievably special and I’m full of gratitude,” Cozi said. “It was the most I’ve ever been involved in a movie ever. I’m singing, dancing, acting as two roles and I wrote for the soundtrack, so to be a part of all of that makes it all the more special to see it come to fruition.”
Cozi is not only a killer actress. She’s also a dancer, singer and songwriter, all of which she got to show in Freaky Friday. Her favorite songs from the movie, written by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, are “Go” and “Biology.” Heidi, too, loves the songs, as well as the new script.
“This is a very different take and it is for today’s teenagers and today’s parents,” Heidi says. “It’s not just a story for kids. I really do feel like if your family sat down and watched it, everybody would get something out of it.”
Speaking of different takes, the cast admits that there was some pressure going into this project because of the success of the previous versions, particularly the Lindsay Lohan one. But that pushed that aside and were able to focus on updating Freaky Friday for 2018.
“This is a property that has been beloved for generation after generation. Every generation seems to have a Freaky Friday, but again, we were so encouraged to reinvent and really make this our own. When you see it, you’re going to be like, ‘Okay, familiar mom-daughter body swap,’ but that’s kind of it. We have utterly reinvented it. Not only is it a musical, but the emotional content is much deeper I think,” Heidi explains.
Cozi adds, “It was almost like there was so much pressure that I was able to let it all go. I just focused on making it different and I think that we were really able to that, not only because it’s a musical but it’s just such a departure in the sensibility and in the themes that we explore. I don’t think fans will feel like we’ve ripped off any older version. I think it will be a new take on this classic idea of a mother [and] daughter switching bodies.”
When interviewing the cast, it was clear that they had as much fun off set than they did when filming. Freaky Friday is as entertaining as entertaining can be, filled with laugh-out-loud moments. Among them is one scene where the character Savannah pours coffee all over Ellie. For Dara, a die-hard fashionista, it wasn’t the easiest to shoot.
“I just saw everybody around [looking at me when I was pouring the coffee] like they were shook, shook, quaking! Listen, I’m a clothes fanatic, right? And so I saw her suit and I knew how much that suit costs. That was one of the hardest scenes because I felt so bad.”
But past the hilarity is a strong message that the cast hopes all audiences will take away.
“I hope it makes you want to hug your mom,” Cozi says. “Sometimes we’re really hard on our parents and we think they’re trying to ruin our lives by controlling us, but you know what? If your parents are trying to control you, it’s because they love you so much and they don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
Freaky Friday premieres August 10 on Disney Channel.