Albion students present ‘Freaky Friday’ musical

Posted 15 April 2021 at 7:46 pm

Show can be viewed through online streaming

Photos courtesy of Albion Central School: Myleigh Miller, center, is Ellie Blake who switches bodies with her mother in Freaky Friday. She is joined on stage by Leah Kania, left, who is Gretchen and Emily Mergler who is Hannah.

Press Release, Albion Central School

ALBION – With Broadway stages still shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the excitement is palpable as Albion High School’s Theatrical Department gets ready to launch its virtual spring production of Disney’s “Freaky Friday.”

According to Director Connor Doran, while a lot of thought went into choosing this year’s show, taking into consideration the ever-changing safety restrictions but wanting to carry on the tradition of a spring musical, the goal remained the same: “choose a show that will make the students shine.”

Aubrey Boyer, right, portrays Katherine Blake, the mother who turns into a teen. She is on stage with Annalise Steier, who plays Fiona.

“As a new teacher, having no previous knowledge of the student make-up, and working in the confines of a pandemic, I wanted to choose something that would be meaningful, musically catchy, and also a challenge,” Doran said. “We made the decision back in November once we got the go-ahead from our administration.”

One of the deciding factors was that “Freaky Friday” has streaming options, which was ideal for the pandemic and ensured they could share the show with the greater Albion community.

According to Doran, one of the best parts of producing this show was finding creative solutions to the challenges it posed.

“Between producing a theatrical work while masked, making sure everyone was comfortable, creating our protocol sheet and following it to a ‘T’, reimagining the way some things are done in a pandemic world, pushing our students to reach their potential, and allowing everyone’s creativity to shine through, there was a lot to consider,” Doran said.

The cast rehearsed for two hours a day, Monday through Saturday, every week leading up to the filming of the show.

“What you don’t see are the countless hours of practicing lines, music, choreography, set building, lighting design, props creation, organization, and general creativity,” Doran explained. “What one would see in a rehearsal is only a fraction of the time that led up to the preparation of that moment.”

Myleigh Miller, who plays one of the leads, Ellie Blake, in the show, said that even with all the hours of preparation, she was still finding new ways to improve and learning about her character during the live shows.

“The most challenging aspect was the limited amount of time we had,” Miller explained. “I found myself learning new things about the characters I portrayed in the middle of a live performance, and having to be done with the show, just as I was getting to truly know the characters, was a bit hard.”

The show went on for the Albion High School Theatrical Department with the production of Freaky Friday. There won’t be an in-person audience but the show will be available to stream online Friday through Sunday.

Another difficulty was learning how to communicate their characters’ emotions while wearing their masks.

“In order to be heard, I had to learn some techniques on how to project [my voice] more and adjust my breathing since it was so much harder to hear us,” Miller explained.

The production’s costume team – led by Kathy Winans and Karen Dibley and included countless other volunteers like members from Winans’ Life Skills class – created, designed, and sewed each performer their own “singing mask.” Each costume received a matching mask and, for some performers, that means they had four masks.

“The masks were one of the hardest parts about the show because you had to rethink as an actor how to express emotion and tell a story using only your eyes,” said Miller’s co-star Aubrey Boyer, who played Ellie’s mother Katherine Blake.

Annalise Steier is Fiona and Rowan Ford is Adam in the Freaky Friday musical.

Despite these challenges, the duo said that the best part about this year was getting to perform again, especially since their production of “The Little Mermaid” was canceled last spring due to the pandemic.

“The whole process of putting together a show was something I’d worried about missing this year,” Miller explained.

Boyer agreed, adding, “my favorite part of the show was working with the cast. These people are so amazing and are like one big family. The memories you create will last a lifetime.”

With the first virtual show set to premiere Friday, April 16, at 7 p.m., the actors promise the show will be fun yet sentimental.

“Audience members can look forward to fun songs, fun costumes, and fun characters; Freaky Friday is an all-around fun time,” Miller said.

“This show is an absolute rollercoaster but an amazing ride,” Boyer emphasized. “The audience can look forward to a laugh and maybe even some tears.”

This vibrant, colorful, funny, heartfelt performance can be streamed on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. as well as on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be bought online by clicking here.