Classic ‘90s sitcom Friends is lovingly and oh-so-knowingly revived in bumper nostalgia trip, Friends the Musical Parody.
Condensing ten seasons into a single-act 100-minute show, Friends the Musical Parody features all of the much-loved characters and iconic memorable moments that made Friends such a monster hit. With plenty of Friends fans in the audience on this Melbourne opening night, the theatre was filled with laughter and applause of recognition as the memories came flooding back.
Creating a parody of something that is already funny is not easy, but book and lyric writers Bob and Tobly McSmith have extensive experience, having written nine shows like this one. The book is the strongest part of Friends the Musical Parody, driving the show along with plenty of laughs. A winning feature was the use of the actor’s names for guest stars, eg Monica is not dating Dr Richard Burke, she is dating (a very geriatric) Tom Selleck.
With music by Assaf Gleizner, the songs are mixed in their success, with the best few sampling well-known musical theatre numbers from shows like Chicago and Rent. Performing to pre-recorded music takes out some of the spontaneity of live performance, but it is pleasing to note that synchronisation is tight. The musical accompaniment that leads into scenes is spot on and really captures the tv sitcom vibe.
In an odd choice, actor Dom Hennequin (who plays Gunther) comes on before the show in an attempt to “warm up” the audience. The actual show takes a few minutes to get into full gear to recover from this dull beginning. Set in Central Perk and Monica and Rachel’s (mysteriously spacious) apartment, the show really jumps up a gear when jilted bride Rachel arrives on the scene, bouffant wedding dress and all.
Under Dash Kruck’s energetic direction, the bright and breezy pace never flags. Infusions of further energy arrive each time a guest character makes an appearance. Cameron Mitchell’s snappy, tightly performed choreography adds to the entertainment value.
Each of the six lead players pick up the amusing quirks and foibles of their characters. Tyran Stig amuses with the exaggerated tension of Ross. Maverick Newman fully physicalises the bouncy loveable vibe of Chandler. Eleanor MacIntyre delights with Rachel’s pouty, spoiled preciousness.
Newman scores further points with a number of appearances as the wonderfully obnoxious Janice, she of the machine gun laugh and unflappable self-confidence.
The multitudinous fans of Friends are sure to be amused by Friends the Musical Parody.
Friends the Musical Parody plays at Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne until 17 December 2022. For tickets, click here.
Photos: Oliver Toth, Accent Photography
Categories: Music Theatre, Reviews
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