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The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

The hidden champions of Northwood’s new musical

Kyle Lien, Meiwen Zajtmann and Danyelle Bossardet
DEDICATED DUOS: Kevin Lien, Kyle Lien, Meiwen Zajtmann, Rebecca Wang, Karen Palmer and Danyelle Bossardet appreciate one another.

What does it mean to truly walk in another person’s shoes?

In Northwood’s upcoming musical, “Freaky Friday,” teenager Ellie Blake (Meiwen Zajtmann) and her mother Katherine (Kyra Silver) learn the answer to this question, quite literally, when they accidentally switch bodies for one freaky Friday. 

“There are deeper themes in the musical that I wasn’t expecting,” director Danyelle Bossardet said. “There is this idea of generational divide and also of empathy.”

The musical’s exploration of complex familial relationships highlights the personal impact parents can have. In honor of “Freaky Friday,” here are some ways parents and supporters of the production’s cast have shaped their journeys:


After moving from France four and a half years ago, sophomore Meiwen Zajtmann’s parents consistently provided her with a variety of opportunities like dance classes.

“They guided me through growing responsibilities, enabled me to be independent, supported the decisions I made and taught me to be cultivated, aware and curious,” Zajtmann said. “And all the while we were integrating in Irvine, they also made sure that we kept our French culture.”

Ever since she got into theater last year, Zajtmann says her parents have never ceased to support her choices and artistic pursuits. 

“I can really connect to Ellie because her relationship with her mom is such a relatable life,” Zajtmann said. “But portraying the mom is also very fun because now I get to feel like I can understand my parents better and the challenges they go through.”


Sophomore Kathleen Shumate, who plays Katherine’s assistant Torrey, began her theater journey in fifth grade through the time and care of her drama teachers and, of course, her parents. Through the years, Shumate has learned that navigating differences with parents can require both sides to think about the other’s feelings, outlooks and perspectives.

“Sometimes I don’t get on base with them, or sometimes we disagree on stuff,” Shumate said. “But they continue to support me. They go to all my shows. They’ll drive me places, and they won’t complain about it. They love that I do theater.”


For many students, “Freaky Friday’s” portrayal of the disconnect between a mother and daughter casts a familiar glow on the difficulties of connecting across generations. Despite barriers, senior Kyle Lien, who plays Katherine’s fiancée Mike, expresses gratitude to his parents for their constant encouragement. Lien recognizes the opportunity they gave him to thrive in a place like Northwood and playfully recalls lectures-turned-encouraging speeches from his number one supporter: his dad. 

“It didn’t seem like that to me at first, since he’s always so hard on me,” Lien said. “But he’s always the one who’s pushing my family to go to every single one of my performances, and he’s always encouraging me to do what I want with my life.”


As the director of theater arts at Northwood, Bossardet cherishes the sheer support she received from her family growing up, including her comedian grandfather, cousins, uncles and mom. Knowing that not all students with a passion for the arts have been so fortunate, Bossardet deeply appreciates her mom especially, who comes to all her shows.

“She has supported me with everything,” Bossardet said. “She was a single mom, raising me on her own. She put herself in debt to let me take dance classes and take me to dance studios, because those things were not offered in public school. There were just so many points in her life where her decisions were made for me.”


Tickets for “Freaky Friday,” which runs from Feb. 22-24, are on sale at

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About the Contributor
Hannah Liu, Staff Writer
Hannah was taken into custody for the destruction of her sleep schedule and now writes articles for the Howler to pay off the damages. When she's not sneaking off to Narnia or getting lost in a book, you can probably find her playing with her German Shepherd, drinking boba and thinking about everything. Or searching for her many lost water bottles.

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