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Spring Musical 2018: The Fantastical Freaky Friday Amazes

valley echo

Christopher Krusberg '18
2 May 2018

When an overworked mother and her teenage daughter magically swap bodies, they have just one day to put things right again. Freaky Friday, a new musical based on the celebrated novel by Mary Rodgers and the hit Disney films, is a heartfelt, comedic, and unexpectedly emotional update on an American classic. By spending a day in each other's shoes, Katherine and Ellie come to appreciate one another's struggles, learn self-acceptance, and realize the immeasurable love and mutual respect that bond a mother and daughter.

On April 26th, the 27th, and 28th, the Passaic Valley Theater Department debuted their annual Spring Musical Freaky Friday, based on the 1972 comedic novel by Mary Rodgers. The musical comedy follows Tess Coleman (Annie Challice ‘18) and her daughter Anna (Gabriella Volonnino ‘19) as they do not seem to get along. In a magical incident, the two switch bodies and are forced to adapt to the other’s lives.

Freaky Friday

Freaky Friday Photo Gallery

The two leads, Challice and Volonnino, were phenomenal as their breathtaking singing stole the show. The performances from Alex Papasavas ‘19 as Fletcher and Aaron Nieves ‘18 as Adam were also crowd favorites. The play was full of many entertaining musical numbers, some highlights being "Busted" and "Women and Sandwiches". 

Annie and Cast Performing

The Passaic Valley Theater Department had a different and well deserved opportunity this year. This year, PV was a part of a very exclusive list, being one of only five other schools in the country to be given the opportunity to perform the new musical through Disney Theatrical Licensing Pilot Program. Therefore, production members from Disney assisted from day one of the production, helping with publicity and the approval for the Bucks County numbers.

Director Ms. Jennifer Shue was proud of the cast and crew’s performances considering the difficult tasks they’ve had this year. It required a lot more creativity, leading to a lot a more unique and entertaining play. “This play was probably the most difficult one that I produced/directed,” Ms. Shue stated. “Because this was a pilot production, there was nothing but the soundtrack to get any reference from. So we needed our own creative minds to create this show... Kids did a great job trusting us and our ideas and were amazing!” Freaky Friday

Something incredibly different in this production was the revolving set used throughout the play. “Rob Lavagno, our set designer, created an amazing set that rotated 360 degrees multiple times throughout the show at multiple speeds," said Shue. "This was beautiful to watch but very hard to choreograph some of the scenes like the song 'Go'. 'Go' was about 7 minutes long and had multiple scene locations in that one song. The set revolved many times throughout that one number.”

Aaron Nieves ‘18 played the lead male role of Adam, a friendly and charismatic kid that Anna crushes on. This was Aaron’s first experience in PV Theater. Therefore, the chance was a challenging yet exciting one. “I want to thank Ms. Shue and the rest of the production staff along with the cast and crew for believing in me the entire way through when I had trouble believing in myself,” stated Nieves. “Everyone put so much hard work and effort into the production and all of those who came to see know that it was well worth it.”

Gabbi V Performing On the other hand, Annie Challice has been a part of the PV Theater Department since her freshman year. Her work as the lead role alongside Gabriella Vollonnino’s performance as Anna was incredible as the two would go back and forth, driving the story along in a compelling and captivating fashion. As a senior now, Annie is appreciative of her chance to be apart of PV Theater for four years. “I feel like in my four years here this is one of the best plays that PV has put on and I am really honored to have been a part of it,” she said. “I’m really proud of myself and this cast because this was a pretty difficult show acting and musically and we did such a great job.”

Ms. Shue was very appreciative of the cast and crew's ability to adapt and meet new challenges, listing several people she'd like to specifically thank. “Most importantly, [I thank] the students for trusting us through this process.  Whatever we threw at them, the trusted us, worked hard and enjoyed every moment," she said. "Annie and Gabi V for being true professionals and working hard every single day on very difficult material for young high school students. Eden O'Connor, our Stage Manager, this show could not have been done without her. Her dedication, hard work, leadership skills were all very evident with this production. Sophia Ayoub, our Stage Manager and Lighting Designer, for creating the beautiful picture. The administration for their support throughout this process. My production staff: Maggie Lavagno, Rob Lavagno, Mike Deluccia, Pia Vanderstreet, Jenny and Jess LeProtto, Alexa Arrabito, Nick Marmo and Mr. Rossilli and Mr. Cappello. To all the seniors: I will miss you so much! I hope you enjoyed this ride as much as I did.  I wish you all the best in the future!”

The story of Freaky Friday has been adapted many times over the years, reaching its peak in popularity in the 2003 film starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan.

Photographs of play are available at