Glenwood Springs High School theater switches things up with ‘Freaky Friday,’ opening this weekend

Final show for longtime GSHS stage director Kate McRaith

If you go…

What: Glenwood Springs High School production of ‘Freaky Friday’

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25 and 26 and March 4 and 5 (doors at 6:30); also 2 p.m. March 5

Where: Jeannie Miller Theatre, GSHS

Glenwood Springs High School drama students Ella Lindenberg and James Howell rehearse for Freaky Friday during a dress rehearsal at the school on Monday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Glenwood Springs High School drama students return to the stage this weekend and next following a years’ hiatus with their musical production of “Freaky Friday.”

Coincidence or not, it’s perhaps fitting that the school would signal a return to normal with the abnormal tale of a mother and daughter who have a spat, then magically switch bodies and get a chance to see what each other’s hectic lives are like.

“We’ve done a lot of my personal favorite musicals, so we were looking to find something fresh and relevant,” said longtime GSHS stage director Kate McRaith. “This one just kind of struck a chord. I love the characters, and the music’s great. It’s just a really fun show.”

Tick the clock back to early 2020, when GSHS was wrapping up its last theater production of “Footloose.”

“We closed the show just as people were starting to get really nervous about things,” McRaith said of the early days of the coronavirus before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

“That following Thursday, everything shut down,” she said.

Neighboring Aspen High School scrambled and converted its production that year to a virtual performance. High school theater students wouldn’t return to the stage for auditions until last fall.

“Even then, we didn’t know how things were going to go, so we made some adjustments,” McRaith said. “We kept the set minimal, and the costumes are contemporary, so that was easy. And for the first time we’re using recorded music as opposed to a live orchestra.”

And, with local COVID-19 case numbers way down after the January surge, the curtains are set to rise at the Jeannie Miller Theatre at 7 p.m. Friday for opening night of “Freaky Friday.” The show continues at 7 p.m. Saturday and again at 7 p.m. March 4 and 5, plus a 2 p.m. understudy matinee on March 5.

GSHS seniors Ella Lindenberg, Katherine Young and James Howell were in the school’s production of “Footloose” as sophomores, and are looking forward to getting back on the stage in front of a live audience.

“Being able to do this show has definitely brought joy and happiness back into my life,” said Lindenberg, who plays the part of Ellie Blake, daughter of Katherine Blake (played by Young).

“Music and acting are so much a part of my life, and to not have a show last year was so sad,” Lindenberg said. “Our theater community is pretty tight, and these are some of the most positive groups of people I can surround myself with.”

Glenwood Springs High School students, from right, Sara Corwin, Ella Lindenberg and Alicia Lowe and , rehearse Freaky Friday during a dress rehearsal at the school on Monday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“Freaky Friday” gives everyone in the show a chance to shine, she said.

Young agreed.

“This show has a lot of dynamic characters, and a lot of character development that I think is really interesting,” she said. “It’s a very heart-warming story once you get past some of the sadness.”

Howell plays Ellie Blake’s good friend, Adam.

Compared to their freshman-year productions of “Mama Mia” and “Footloose,” this year’s show is refreshing, he said.

“Just getting to put on a show at all is incredible,” Howell said. “It gives all of us an outlet to express our creativity and explore our characters.”

The show involves about 35 cast members and a total of about 75 students including the crew. McRaith noted that former student Alexander Tucker returns as the lighting consultant.

That speaks to the joy she has had through 13 years at GSHS directing various stage productions.

“I’m really excited to go out doing a show instead of not doing one, like last year, so that’s really nice,” McRaith said. “Like these guys mentioned, the community that the drama department has established over the years has just been a lifesaving and beautiful thing. Year after year, students come back to me and say how much it changed their lives.”

That joy extends to the broader community, she said.

“We really wanted to do something hopeful and optimistic that will bring people out and give them a little bit of joy.”

Glenwood Springs High School students perform Freaky Friday during a dress rehearsal at the school on Monday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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