Review: The One with “FRIENDS! The Musical Parody”

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Review: The One with “FRIENDS! The Musical Parody”

"FRIENDS! The Musical Parody" has extended its run through the summer, bringing the parody to wider audiences. (COURTESY OF RUSS ROWLAND)

"FRIENDS! The Musical Parody" has extended its run through the summer, bringing the parody to wider audiences. (COURTESY OF RUSS ROWLAND)

"FRIENDS! The Musical Parody" has extended its run through the summer, bringing the parody to wider audiences. (COURTESY OF RUSS ROWLAND)

By MARIELLE SARMIENTO, Arts & Culture Editor

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Many students at Fordham are drawn to life in New York City because of the sheer amount of TV shows, movies and books that take place here. Everyone probably grew up watching reruns of “Friends.” If it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year, make sure to head down to St. Luke’s Theatre because your favorite friends have extended their Off-Broadway run of “FRIENDS! The Musical Parody.”

From the creative team that brought you “Bayside! The Saved By The Bell Musical” and “90210! The Musical,” the hit sitcom “Friends” is parodied live on stage. The hilarious show chronicles all 10 seasons of the lives of Ross (Landon Zwick), Rachel (Patricia Sabulis), Chandler (Seth Blum), Joey (Alan Trinca), Monica (Lisa Graye) and Phoebe (Katie Johantgen) as they navigate relationships and romance as a friend group in New York City, with charming songs to move the story along.

The most compelling part of the show is the attention to detail in recreating aspects of “Friends.” The interior of the intimate theater is made to look like Monica and Rachel’s iconic Manhattan apartment, with orange and purple walls and the same lamps as the TV show. The actual set, alternating between the apartment and Central Perk, the friends’ regular coffee shop hangout, are almost exact replicas from the TV show down to the coffee mugs.

The cast had audiences dying of laughter with their spot-on impressions of the mannerisms and speech patterns of their television counterparts. The costumes and wigs consisted of each friend’s most recognizable outfits from the show. Johantgen and Trinca gave particularly noteworthy performances; their portrayals of Phoebe and Joey were near perfect impressions of Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc and yet they still added their own funny quirks that refreshed the characters. The cast had the energy of an opening night performance, but moved together like a seasoned team, every movement and stunt clearly rehearsed.

The songs are full of fun nods to all the inside jokes and major plot points in the show, using tight harmonies that correlate perfectly with the dynamics of the characters. While the musical doesn’t include any music from the TV show’s soundtrack, it features original music by Assaf Gleizner, music director of other Off-Broadway parodies such as “Katdashians.” The choreography is almost cartoon-like and matches the outrageous personalities of the characters.

The show is an overall entertaining experience, but when attending, it’s important to keep in mind that it is a musical parody. This derivative work could not stand alone without an extensive knowledge of “Friends.” The show covers all the running gags and quintessential moments in the storyline, but a linear plot is nonexistent. In order to fully appreciate the show, you need to be a very particular type of fan. Casual or even regular viewers of “Friends” might not understand the joke references, while diehard fans may be offended by how much the musical mocks the original work. The ideal spectator has probably watched and rewatched all 10 seasons, but can enjoy poking a little fun at it. The show’s self-awareness and ability to make fun of itself by repeatedly breaking the fourth wall is what keeps it light and funny, and from falling into the realm of tackiness.

This Off-Broadway show is a must experience for anyone who knows exactly when to clap during the opening credits of an episode. It’s the perfect activity for a fun night out with your own group of friends. “FRIENDS! The Musical” has extended its run through the summer at St. Luke’s Theatre on 308 W 46th St.