MOORHEAD — After three years as an ensemble member in Trollwood Performing Arts School’s mainstage musicals, McKenna Brye is savoring her turn in a starring role.
“It’s nice to finally dive into singing and acting, to bring out my other talents,” says the young actress.
Brye isn’t just playing a starring role, she’s playing both — kind of.
Brye and Andie Peterson star in the family musical “Freaky Friday,” which opens a three-weekend run this Thursday, July 11. Brye opens the show as Ellie. Later, when she and her working mom Katherine, played by Peterson, magically switch bodies, Brye plays Katherine in Ellie’s form.
“I feel like a Jekyll and Hyde thing, playing two characters in a show,” Brye says with a laugh.
Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey and Bridget Carpenter’s work is an update of the 2003 Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis film, which was an update on the 1976 Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris film.
While the story is well-known by now, the musical is relatively new, having debuted less than three years ago. And it’s one the stars have found poignant in their own lives.
Brye relates to her teenage counterpart, longing to grow up and experience more, like taking a major role in the play.
Peterson returns to centerstage at Trollwood, having starred in “Hello, Dolly!” in 2018. She also played Wardrobe in 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast” and Ursula in 206’s “The Little Mermaid.”
“I’m just excited to do something that isn’t expected of us. For the majority of the show, we’re playing against type,” Peterson says, referring to Brye’s step away from ensemble member and her own chance to play a younger character when she acts out Ellie in Katherine’s body.
Playing the mother strikes home for both actresses.
While Brye has always had a strong relationship with her mom, she appreciates her more now after working on the play.
“I definitely took pride in her and was aware of all she’s done for me. Now, it's now it’s more so,” says the incoming senior at Davies High School in Fargo.
Similarly, Peterson, who just graduated from West Fargo High School, is close to her mother. Still, she says playing a mom gives her a new perspective on their relationship.
Her favorite number in the piece is when she, as Ellie’s voice in Katherine’s body, sings “Parents Lie” to her younger brother, explaining that parents say things that aren’t true to protect their children.
“It’s a really sweet moment,” she says, adding that the whole show is “so beautifully written.”
Brye’s favorite is “No More Fear” sung by Katherine in Ellie’s body, near the conclusion of the show.
“It’s a realization moment for the mom that it’s OK to be who you are,” Brye says. “It’s very much an empowerment song.”
While kids may be more familiar with this version than parents, the story is really as much for moms and dads as it is for their children.
“There will be so many moments when parents will cry during this,” Peterson says. “It’s been so much fun to look at the writing and see who this was written for.”
For her, she can relate to Katherine’s feeling of getting older in life.
“This summer has gone by the fastest ever. It’s sad because I love this program. I wish I could do it forever,” she says. “This year has been reflective, seeing things for how they are, so it’s definitely fitting that it’s my last show here.”
If you go
What: “Freaky Friday”
When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11, through Saturday, July 13, and July 17-20 and July 24-27
Where: Bluestem Amphitheater, 801 50th Ave. S., Moorhead
Info: Tickets range from $10 to $32; https://trollwood.org or 218-477-6502