At Choate, the term “Freaky Friday” does not refer to the popular 2003 movie starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis ’76. Rather, Freaky Friday is an event of singing, skits, and fun that will take place tonight, January 26, in St. John Hall.

Freaky Friday was developed in the early 1990s by a group of sixth-form leaders on student council who wanted to have a skit night for dorms, teams, and other campus groups. Initially, when Choate had a larger campus, Freaky Friday took place in the Ruutz Rees commons, where a stage, lighting, and sound systems were set up. Mr. Jim Yanelli, Director of Student Activities, explained that the kitchen of Ruutz Rees was used as a “backstage area for performers to set up their equipment.”

Over the years, however, Freaky Friday became “more of a talent show and open mic night, like the spring term’s Coffeehouse,” said Mr. Yanelli. “There are more talent opportunities, less comedy, but more singing, poetry, and musical acts.” Although still a night for the Choate community to gather, the event morphed into an opportunity geared toward students with specific talents to perform. Mr. Yanelli said, “It’s great for students to show their talents, but it used to be goofier and more team or dorm-based, where the focus was less on performance than it was on funny skits. This performance now, I think, is more enjoyable for the students.”

As Choate’s Director of Student Activities, Mr. Yanelli knows the student body quite well, and yet he is always impressed by students who unexpectedly astonish the Freaky Friday crowd with a hidden talent. “It’s always nice to have that element of surprise,” he said. “I’m just so impressed by kids’ abilities to get up in front of a large group of peers.”

In previous years, Mr. Yanelli recalls some students doing magic acts or comedy skits, with all acts unique and great fun to watch. Mr. Yanelli particularly favors an act once performed by a sophomore dorm in which students simulated a surgery. The performers used a sheet as a blanket and removed a student’s organs in a wild manner.

In more recent years, Freaky Friday’s turnout has been quite large, with around several hundred students in attendance. Serena Sandweiss ’20 said, “While it’s daunting to perform in front of such a big group of students, it’s always nice to see a few friendly faces in the audience.”

Mr. Yanelli added that Freaky Friday is “one of those great punctuation marks in the school year — like Harvest Fest, the Holiday Ball, the Deerfield Pep Rally, or the Last and First Hurrahs — that are just a big part of the Choate community.” These traditions are, as Mr. Yanelli put it, distinct as part of the “annualized Choate experience.”

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