Interview with Disney’s ‘Freaky Friday’ Musical Cast Member Jessie Hooker

I’m excited to share with you an exclusive interview with actress Jessie Hooker. She plays the role of Savannah in Disney’s “Freaky Friday” musical now at the La Jolla Playhouse.

I watched “Freaky Friday” on opening weekend and I was completely entertained from beginning to end. Most know the 2003 movie, “Freaky Friday,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. In Disney’s new musical, this familiar story about a mother and daughter who accidently swap bodies for a day gets a new look and a modern twist to the old plot.

Several things make this musical so worth watching. The diversity of the cast is the first thing I noticed. Then there’s the scene when the brave cast strips down to their skivvies to make a point, which wasn’t lost on me (this part may not be suitable for younger children). But it was the current issues and the level of energy expended on the stage that left me feeling like I was the one who had gone through a time warp!

Based on the celebrated novel by Mary Rodgers and two hit Disney films, this classic story of a mother and daughter who magically swap bodies for 24 chaotic hours has been given a contemporary spin with a hilarious new book by Bridget Carpenter (“Parenthood,” “Friday Night Lights”) and a driving pop‐rock score by Tony Award® and Pulitzer Prize winners Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal, If/Then), directed by Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley. 

Jessie Hooker (right of hourglass) and the cast of La Jolla Playhouse’s production of Disney’s FREAKY FRIDAY, book by Bridget Carpenter, music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Brian Yorkey, directed by Christopher Ashley, running at La Jolla Playhouse through March 19; photo by Jim Carmody.

Jessie Hooker (right of hourglass) and the cast of La Jolla Playhouse’s production of Disney’s FREAKY FRIDAY, book by Bridget Carpenter, music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Brian Yorkey, directed by Christopher Ashley, running at La Jolla Playhouse through March 19; photo by Jim Carmody.

Jessie Hooker plays high school mean girl Savannah.  She’s a tall, lean, singing and dancing machine. And she’s as beautiful as she is talented! I had the chance to ask her a few questions about the play, and to get her take on some of the current issues presented in this updated version of Freaky Friday.

  1. This reimagined version of Freaky Friday has been described as high energy. Which number or choreography was the most challenging to learn?

It’s high energy in the best way! I would say if I had to pick the “most challenging” it would be “Go”- not even only for me but Chris who plays Adam is having to sing and ride a hover board which is pretty cool and we’re all coming and going on the turn tables so there’s just a lot of moving pieces. It’s a good thing! Keeps you engaged every night!

  1. This musical mentions positive body image. It’s an important issue among teenagers, especially girls. Did this aspect of the musical resonate with you and why?

It totally does resonate! I have the opportunity every night to watch that moment offstage before having to run onstage and kinda interrupt it all as Savannah (haha). I get close to tearing up every night watching Emma deliver those lines of embracing WHO they are and watch my fellow cast members be brave (as their characters but ALSO as actors) and take off their clothes! Hahah it’s a HUGE deal in all aspects of the scene.

I just realized this may be a SPOILER ALERT moment so feel free to edit haha. So much of our business specifically is based on looks so we can be really hard on ourselves. It’s nice to see a piece go “Hey- I see you girls and boys who may not think your perfect. You may think because you don’t look like these people on this magazine you aren’t enough but guess what- you ARE. Who YOU are is enough. Be free!” So even though I’m not directly a part of that moment onstage being in a piece that states those things makes me feel super empowered and excited for the audience members seeing it. I resonate with it fully and it makes me feel good!!

  1. The teen demographic is difficult to reach with theater. Freaky Friday targets this age group. Besides appreciating, and maybe even be inspired by, the talent displayed on stage, what would you like for teenagers to walk away with after watching this musical: a life lesson, social awareness, appreciation for their friends/parents, or all of it?

All of it. One of the things I like about this piece is the message of self appreciation as well as appreciating things we may look over in other people’s lives. Ellie experiences life in her mom’s eyes and her mom experiences life in her daughter’s. It’s a beautiful way of looking at unconditional love- and how life may be for someone we see as different from us. I think we need that today.

  1. Can you give us a couple of examples of what teens might see on stage that can transition into their lives?

High school life can be TOUGH. There’s always the bully, nerd, popular girl who doesn’t seem to like you for no real apparent reason. Haha. There are glimpses of all of these things in the musical. I think the real relationships between a daughter and her mother is seen- the difficulties and misunderstandings they may have and what it takes (sometimes magic..but also some patience 🙂 ) to really hear each other.

  1. The updated version of Freaky Friday includes a hoverboard. Are there other modern gadgets, fashion, or references we’ll notice in the musical? Which one is your favorite?

I LOVE our costumes. EMILY REBHOLZ designed our costume look and it’s one of my favorite parts of the show. So much of what I wear is what I would wear in my regular life. She did a great job capturing everyone’s personality within their character so we all feel comfortable and at our best. Love love LOVE my clothes in the show.

  1. Finally, if you could swap bodies with someone today, who would you choose?

Hehehe. I would definitely change with my baby niece Zoey. I think it’s so cool to watch her discover the things I already know from my 28 years of life. She’s about 1 and ½  years old and just starting regular foods and making choices on what she likes and doesn’t like. She loves the wind and being outside.. the simple things. I think I’d like to go back to that time! I’m not sure how crazy she’d be about skipping a few 20 years and being a grown up though! Hahaha.

Thanks for the fun interview, Jessie!

Teenage audiences will love Disney’s musical,”Freaky Friday,” now at The La Jolla Playhouse. There’s still time to see Jessie and the rest of the talented cast in “Freaky Friday.” The show’s residence has been extended twice and will be here until March 19, 2017. For tickets and information please visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org

Disclosure: I attended as a guest of the La Jolla Playhouse. All opinions are my own.

Comments

  1. Oh man I was just in San Diego last week I wish I went to check this out it looks like an awesome show!

Speak Your Mind

*