‘Friends! The Musical Parody’ lovingly roasts iconic ’90s sitcom
Monica, Phoebe, Rachel and their guy pals are SO 1990s – and that’s part of the fun of “Friends! The Musical Parody.”
The North American tour of the former off-Broadway musical that closed last July in New York is dropping in on Pittsburgh for one performance Jan. 29 at the Byham Theater, as part of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Cohen and Grigsby Trust Presents Series.
Tickets are “very limited,” according to the Cultural Trust website.
“Friends! The Musical Parody” is a musical comedy that roasts the TV series “Friends,” which ran on NBC from 1994-2004 and featured an ensemble cast starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.
The series focused on the everyday lives of six friends in their 20s and 30s living in Manhattan.
“It’s sort of a mash-up of ‘Friends’ and all we came to know and love in the TV show,” says New York actor Sami Griffith, who plays the enviable role of Rachel (Aniston’s TV character) in the touring stage show.
Griffith, who grew up in Reno, Nev., and studied music and theater at the University of California, San Diego, and at Collaborative Arts Project 21, a New York City professional musical theater training conservatory, was an understudy for the three female roles in New York before joining the tour.
The parody takes place on a typical day at New York’s Central Perk coffee shop, until an unexpected runaway bride enters and things turn into “an uncensored, fast-paced, music-filled romp.”
Due to its adult humor, the show is recommended for mature audiences.
Griffith remembers watching the “Friends” TV series with her older sister. She was 5 years old when the series premiered in 1994 and says they both watched reruns of the shows as adolescents.
“Many of the jokes in the sitcom would be politically incorrect today,” she says, “and the seed of feminism was in there. It was very progressive for its time.”
She remembers the attention that Aniston received for her “Rachel hair,” the shag hairstyle she wore on TV that became popular in 1995.
“My sister and I tried so hard to get Rachel hair, but we never could,” Griffith says. “Now I get to have perfect Rachel hair with the wig I wear in the show.”
She also says her 7-year-old daughter is thrilled when she dons Rachel’s iconic off-the-shoulder wedding gown and jeweled headpiece from the TV series.
The actor says audiences are going to love “Friends! The Musical Parody” when it comes to town, but they should “brush up on your episodes on Netflix. It makes it more fun.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.