Review: FRIENDS! The Musical Parody Offers an Uncensored, Fast-Paced, Music-Filled Romp of the Popular TV Series
The Los Angeles premiere of FRIENDS! The Musical Parody, a Guest Production by Right Angle Entertainment at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, comically celebrates and lovingly pokes fun at the classic TV series "Friends" while musically sharing the adventures of your favorite group of 20-something friends as they navigate the pitfalls of work, life and love in 1990s Manhattan. The new musical recreates many favorite moments from all 10 years of the fan favorite through an uncensored, fast-paced, music-filled romp beginning with a typical day at New York's only coffee shop, Central Perk, as five of the series regulars, who apparently spend morning, noon and night at the place (even while "working"), are interrupted by an unexpected runaway bride (with beautiful hair) who rushes in and changes their lives forever by becoming the sixth series regular.
Even if, like me, you have never seen an episode of the TV series, no doubt the fame of the real-life actors on the show, each of whom celebrate their fame in song during "The One Where We Make a Million Dollars an Episode," makes this show an exceedingly fun time thanks to the skill of the talented, triple-threat cast (Sami Griffith as Rachel Green, Maggie McMeans as Monica Geller, Madison Fuller as Phoebe Buffay, Aaron C. Rutherford as Chandler Bing, Tyler Fromson as Ross Geller, and Domenic Servidio as Joey Tribbiani), fast-paced direction by Tim Drucker, cute and comical choreography by Billy Griffin, with music director Tegan Miller lending pizazz to the entertaining book & lyrics by Bob & Tobly McSmith with music & orchestrations by Assaf Gleizner.
What I did understand and certainly laughed about were the cast members mocking each other about their real-life choices, such as Jennifer Anniston losing Brad Pitt to Angelina Jolie, Lisa Kudrow going on to star with Academy Award winning actress Mira Sorvino in "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion," Courtney Cox's poor choice of men by marrying David Arquette after making fun of others on the show for their dating choices, Matt LeBlanc whose dim-witted, no-real talent actor and womanizer Joey Tribbiani went on to star in that character's self-named sequel, David Schwimmer who as Ross, the constantly depressed, hopeless-romantic paleontologist, went on to act, produce and direct with much success, and Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing who has continued to appear on several TV series, often as co-creator, co-writer, and executive producer. There is no doubt these six owe their fame and fortune to the 10 years celebrated in FRIENDS! The Musical Parody.
While not revealing too much about the actual storyline, which moves quickly from scene to scene, here is the list of songs from the show, with many titles no doubt familiar to fans:
"495 Grove Street - How Can We Afford This Place?"
"How you Doin?" - Joey
"We Were on a Break!" - Ross
"Oh. My. God. It's Janice!" - Janice
"Will They or Wont They" - Ross and Rachel
"The Ballad of Fat Monica"
"The Chick and The Duck Song"
"I am Marcel, the Monkey!"
"Could I BE Anymore...in Love with You" - Chandler
"The One Where We Make a Million Dollars an Episode"
"We'll Always Be There For You"
It will assist you to have a friend or two with you in the audience to fill you in on references which non-fans will not understand, such as mocking Rachel about her dating dalliances with Tom Selleck and Bruce Willis, both of whom are portrayed to comic effect by cast members. Perfectly matched-to-character costumes by designer David Rigler are enhanced by wigs designed by Dee Spencer. The simple set design by Josh Iacovelli centers around a two-sided couch which represents the friends favorite meeting place at Central Perk on one side and then Monica's apartment on the other (and exactly how can she afford 2,000 square foot Manhattan high rise other than for us to "suspend our disbelief" as encouraged in song), with workable lighting design by Brian Tovar and sound design by Lauren Vargas utilized during the national tour. FRIENDS! The Musical Parody not only keeps you laughing, but tugs at the heart strings drawing audiences into stories and characters most of us know and love. Due to adult language and situations, the show is recommended for mature audiences. Performances continue at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, CA 90232, through Sunday, August 4 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25, available by calling 213.628.2772 or online at www.KirkDouglasTheatre.org. Available tickets are sold at the box office prior to each performance.
Run time is two hours with a 15-minute intermission, but it would probably be best to just run the entire show without an interruption for 90 minutes, given how many people chose to leave at intermission while the cast too the break to apparently just change costumes. FREE three-hour covered parking is available at Culver City City Hall with validation available in the theater lobby. For more information and the latest tour dates for FRIENDS! The Musical Parody visit www.FriendsParodyOnTour.com.
Photo credit: Benjamin Skigen