BWW Review: FRIENDS! THE MUSICAL PARODY at The Bomhard Theater
Sami Griffith (Rachel), Domenic Servidio (Joey), Aaron C. Rutherford (Chandler), Madison Fuller (Phoebe), Maggie McMeans (Monica), Tyler Fromson (Ross).
FRIENDS! THE MUSICAL PARODY
Book and Lyrics by Bob & Tolby McSmith
Directed by Brian Drucker
Review by Taylor Clemons
Entire contents copyright © 2019 Taylor Clemons. All rights reserved.
The television show FRIENDS is a staple of American culture. From the time of its premiere in 1994 the show was an instant success and found a rabid initial following that would result in a ten year run. The show never fell out of favor with reruns galore and DVD home releases, however a new generation discovered it when Netflix added the entire series to its expansive library. Over the past few years, parody musicals based on popular TV shows have become customary fare in New York City at small off Broadway Theaters. The new trend was bound to give birth to a FRIENDS themed parody, and shocking no one, did well enough to inspire a small tour to launch across the United States.
The structure of the show is that of a standard book musical, starting with the events of the show's Pilot and going through some of the most memorable moments of the show's 10 years worth of material. Before I get into the details of the show, I must preface my thoughts by saying I genuinely loved the show for everything it was, but I feel I may have loved it all for the wrong reasons.
The performances from our small troupe of six were all very solid with the exception of Sami Griffith as Rachel. Griffith was ahead of the pack with her spot on Jennifer Aniston impersonation. She truly studied the movements and nuances of Rachel Green and to me delivered the most memorable performance of the night with her sheer abandon and embrace of the campy nature of the show as a whole. The rest of the cast did really well finding moments and adding shades of their TV counterparts to their performances with made for a fine evening as well.
The show itself was... a lot. From the moment it starts you're drastically taken into the world of one of America's favorite sitcoms. However, what comes next is far from the award winning writing exhibited on the original series. The jokes are groan inducing and the music isn't that great. The references are non-stop, which in a way covers your eyes with rose colored glasses as you look back and remember the original. The show is absolutely insane on every level, but even though I know it's fundamentally bad, something about it worked for me. Every terrible joke or sight gag only drew me in more and more to the fever dream that was the musical in front of me. Everything about it was over the top and gawdy and I was living for every second. The fact that the show is self aware doesn't help matters, as every wink and nod to the audience only reminds you that you are here, in a theater, watching this show. Even then I didn't care. Walking into the theater I knew this was either going to be legitimately good, or the "so bad it's good" guilty pleasure it ended up being, and between us, I was rooting for the later.
In conclusion this show is an absolute dumpster fire and everyone out there who happens to feel and witness the heat of it's blaze is forever changed for the better. I can't suggest you see this show enough. It's a great way to wash away woes and worries and to give yourself over to a dumb and silly time at the theatre!
FRIENDS! THE MUSICAL PARODY
Now - March 10, 2019
The Bomhard Theater in The Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 W. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202