Review: FRIENDS a Musical Parody
by Julie Perez
picture by Benjamin Skigen
With the recent announcement from Netflix, that FRIENDS will be leaving the platform at the beginning of 2020, it feels fitting that FRIENDS! The Musical Parody is currently working through a North American Tour.
More than a night at the theater, attending FRIENDS! The Musical Parody feels like an entire experience. From the trivia being played at the lobby, to the clever drink names that referenced moments in FRIENDS, to the 90’s pop hits that played before the show started and the 90’s commercials playing during intermission; it all felt like a cohesive and thought-out experience.
Being that they aimed to fit ten years-worth of storylines into a two-act show, I can appreciate how much story they actually got in. Any die-hard fan would fully be entertained with attempting to catch all of the references they fit into every single moment. The songs were the perfect blend of comedic bits and accurate storytelling. Songs which included, “How You Doing?” performed by Joey (Domenic Servidio) and “Could I BE Anymore … In Love With You” erformed by Chandler (Aaron C Rutherford).
A parody by definition is an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect. In terms of parody, it’s allows the comedy to have free-range while still remaining family-friendly. Personally, I felt like this is where the show struggled, there’s a thin line between exaggeration and obnoxious; the acting often fell on the side of feeling obnoxious. Starting with Jenna Cormey, who played Gunther and who I found to be completely unnecessary. Though Gunther was an essential part of the FRIENDS series, it felt like Jenna overplayed the character in a way that made you beg for her scenes to be over.
I also found it difficult to enjoy a certain kind of joke that they kept coming back to and it had to do with Matthew Perry’s addiction. Maybe it’s because the show does have a near and dear place in my heart and because I have seen extensive interviews of Matthew Perry discussing his struggles, it just felt like cheap comedy at the expense of someone.
Does the good outweigh the bad? Depends on why you’re attending.
I did find myself thoroughly enjoying Sami Grifftih’s performance as Rachel Green; I actually found it difficult to tear my eyes off of her. Her imitation of Jennifer Aniston was full of nuance and perfect comedic timing. Being that I found myself mostly looking her way, I noticed how she didn’t break character for one moment; she had the perfect facial expressions while providing us with a flawless vocal performance. Somebody call SNL and get Sami Griffith a meeting.
All-in-all, I did find the night to be an enjoyable one. It was exciting to experience such a classic part of television history with new life breathing through it. So yes, it wasn’t perfect but I would recommend it to anyone who was a die-hard FRIENDS fan.
FRIENDS! The Musical Parody is currently playing at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (9820 Washington Blvd.) in Culver City playing now through August 4, 2019.