Friends The Musical Parody Theatre Show Review

By Jake Freeman

“So, no one told you life was gonna be this way?” That one line we all know off by heart, for those that loved watching FRIENDS every week, all 236 episodes across all ten seasons. 

Before the days of Netflix and other streaming services, millions of fans tuned in every week to see what wild adventures Rachel, Joey, Ross, Monica, Phoebe and Chandler would be up to, on the iconic television soap. 

Friends became one of the most popular Television shows of all time, having such a huge following. It is no surprise that there would eventuate official and unofficial productions and tributes, with ‘Friends The Musical Parody’ becoming one of them. This musical production is now on at The Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne, and fans can enjoy and reminisce with a live performance that captures all 10 seasons in just under 2 hours. 

Directed by Dash Kruck with book and lyrics written by Bob and Tobly McSmith, Friends The Musical Parody is the unofficial theatre production of the TV series that follows the lives of six unconventional New York friends. Throughout the live show, aided by singing and dancing, we see dates, breakups, marriage proposals, pregnancies, new jobs, and plenty of classic one-liners we all have heard on the television show. 

One of the stronger and more enjoyable aspects of the production was the constant breaking of the fourth wall when one of the actors would simply stop and ask, “So which episode/season are we up to now?”, to just randomly interacting with members of the audience, or poking fun at the actors of the TV version of the show, mentioning their million-dollar salaries or post Friends career.

The cast of Friends was led by Eleanor Macintyre as Rachel, Annie Chiswell as Monica, Belinda Jenkin as Phoebe, Conor Putland as Joey, Maverick Newman as Chandler, and Tyran Stig as Ross. All were extremely talented and entertaining, being able to physically imitate and channel their characters. A good time by all was conveyed on stage.

Stand outs of the group were Maverick Newman as Chandler who also played Janice, Chandler’s on-and-off girlfriend whose mannerisms and quirkiness earned the biggest laughs of the night. Others were Dom Hennequin who played up to four characters including Gunther, the coffee shop barista and most humorously Ursula, Phoebe’s identical twin sister. Dom also serves as the narrator throughout. Belinda Jenkin as Phoebe deserves a mention for her comic performance vocally and guitar playing.

Diehard fans of the show will appreciate, the close attention to detail of the sets, whether it was the Central Perk Coffee Shop or Ross’s apartment. Complimenting all this was the clever use of humorous sound effects and original music written for the show. Since the musical was not affiliated with the TV version, it could not use any of the songs or themes from the series but did manage to slip in a few bars of the show’s theme before quickly switching over to avoid copyright infringement. 

True fans of the show will enjoy the experience of a nostalgic trip from the 90s and early 2000s while watching some of their favourite moments performed live. 

Non-fans of the series will enjoy a group of very talented performers who will present a fast-paced, but faithful and light-hearted history lesson of the show, cramming in ten seasons in just under two hours, touching on many episodes and storylines.

The one-act show runs for approximately 90 minutes and has no intermission. 
It contains some adult themes, as well as some flash lighting and smoke effects. The show is suitable for mature audiences.  

Friends The Musical Parody is now playing for a limited season until 17 December 2023 at The Athenaeum Theatre, located at 188 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD, just a short walk from Flinders Street Station.

To learn more about the show and purchase tickets, go to – www.friendsmusical.com.au