Interview with Musical Director - Shailee Thompson
Was there a special reason the school chose Freaky Friday for our 2021 musical?
There are a few considerations that go into choosing which musical we put on. From a technical perspective, we need to think about the number of roles available, the vocal and instrumental requirements of the show, and whether we can incorporate a variety of styles of dance. I also think it's important to align the show with our school values- Quality Learning, Open Communication, each person's dignity, and our community's diversity; The plot of Freaky Friday really promotes these ideas and that was why it was the clear frontrunner in the shortlist.
Was the audition process different in any way from previous years?
We had a huge amount of interest from students wanting to audition for roles- which was brilliant!- and we wanted everyone to have an opportunity, so for the first time we have video auditions where students recorded a short monologue and sang a song of their choice. The students who were successful in this first round of auditions were then invited to audition in person for me, our Music Director (Kristy Hinch) and our Producer (Tammy Gilmore). This gave students a 'real world' experience of auditioning, which we try to emulate through the whole musical process.
Freaky Friday is a well know story that has spanned a number of generations – are there fans of the story in the cast and was there excitement around playing the roles that (for this generation at least) were made famous by Jamie Lee Curtis and Lyndsey Lohan?
I think the 'body swap'/ 'Live a day in someone's shoes' trope is very well-known to our cast, but the Freaky Friday Musical story is quite different from the movies our students may have seen before, so they came in a little bit blind, to be honest! Once they knew what the musical was, they listened to the Broadway Cast Recording and that was when the excitement kicked in! The songs and scenes range from emotional to funky, hilarious to uplifting and they're different to anything that I've staged here before!
Is the generational divide the story focuses on sparking discussion amongst the cast?
The cast and chorus take on both teenage and adult roles and the best way to bring authenticity to that is by bringing some of your own experiences into it (Acting 101, really). I think the generational divide is dealt with in such a great way in the script that it brings a lot of humour and emotion to it. One song/scene in particular- 'Busted'- directly deals with the conflict that can arise between parents and children and we had a lot of fun staging that scene.
How is Freaky Friday different/ similar to previous Indro Musicals?
In terms of differences, this is the first musical (in a while) that we've done that is not a 'jukebox' musical, meaning the songs are all original and aren't from a catalogue of a famous artist or band. We are taking advantage of our amazing film studio to add in some special effects and pre-recorded footage and there really wasn't a clear aesthetic attached to this script (like the 50s for All Shook Up or futuristic rock for We Will Rock You), that gave me the opportunity to add our own 'look' to the show that I hope both parents and students will love and be able to relate to. For similarities, audiences can expect the same energy and passion from the cast, the Year 7 Dance and the Teacher Dance and there are going to be some little references peppered all throughout the performance for eagle-eyed viewers!
Can you share any highlights in preparation to date with our audience?
For me, personally, every rehearsal is a highlight because I just really enjoy working with our students to put this show together piece by piece and it's all the little moments, jokes, mistakes etc that make this such a rewarding and memorable experience. If I were to pick out just one though; Since last year, I've had this very clear idea of how I wanted one song, 'Oh Biology', to look and- particularly- to end. A few weeks ago, the cast and feature dancers had just learnt the dance and did a rough run-through and it looked exactly like I wanted it to.