Despite going off the air 15 years ago, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, Joey, Ross and Rachel are still there for you. “Friends! The Musical Parody” is coming to the YMCA Boulton Center in Bay Shore on Friday, Jan. 25, after its nearly yearlong Off-Broadway run.
“ ‘Friends’ is beloved,” says co-creator Tobly McSmith. “It’s easy to watch. People love nostalgia — it’s how we feel good and escape.”
But because this is a show that fans hold so close to their heart, McSmith and his creative partner Bob McSmith were very careful when poking fun at the hit NBC sitcom.
“It was tricky to walk that tightrope,” says Tobly McSmith. “We had to get it right. If we went too hard into it, people would be mad because they love that show more than anything.”
The two-hour stage show is fast-paced, full of energy and moves from one funny moment to the next with a musical backdrop.
“You can’t ever relax because you must stay on top of the jokes and make sure each line is delivered clearly and in full,” says Tyler Fromson, who plays adorable nerd Ross Geller (played in the series by David Schwimmer).
Domenic Servidio, who portrays ladies’ man Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), adds, “We are cracking a joke every three seconds and every third line is a punchline.”
While the show isn’t interactive, it feels meta with its mocking of the famous “Friends” actors’ careers.
“There’s a lot of winks and nods to the audience,” Fromson says. That bond that fans have with the show — and its characters — brings warmth to the parody.
“It’s silly, grandiose and loving,” says Sami Griffith who plays self-centered Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston). “Even though we are making fun of it, there’s an underlying respect and admiration for the characters.”
NODS TO NOSTALGIA
For hard-core “Friends” fans, this production incorporates all the classic moments, from Ross’ leather pants fiasco to Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) and her Smelly Cat ode (and that triplet pregnancy) to Rachel’s classic haircut. There are appearances by side characters such as Janice (Maggie Wheeler), Richard (Tom Selleck), Gunther (James Michael Tyler) and Marcel the monkey.
Entire songs are based on inside jokes. Joey sings a tune called “How You Doin’?” (named after his famous catch phrase), in which he teaches Ross and Chandler (Matthew Perry) how to meet girls. Meanwhile the Ross and Rachel romance is highlighted in the duet, “Will They or Won’t They?"
“The funny thing is they didn’t date that long,” Griffith notes. “They actually fought more than they were together.”
A crowd favorite is a flashback to the ‘80s with “Fat Monica.” “It’s almost like she’s a separate character,” says Maggie McMeans, who plays uptight Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) in a padded suit. “When she arrives, everyone gets excited.”
The crowds vary in age from adults who watched the show when it first aired to teens who are currently streaming it on Netflix.
“We see kids with their moms as well as bachelorette parties,” says Tobly McSmith. “There’s every generation of people coming to this show. They all like to celebrate it together.”
Last year, when Netflix announced it was taking “Friends” off its streaming service, fans were appalled and campaigned to keep it on. The company reportedly shelled out $100 million to renew the deal because the subscribers couldn’t live without it.
“The show is timeless. I think it will always live on,” Servidio says. “You have Shakespeare and then there’s ‘Friends’ right next to it.”
“FRIENDS! THE MUSICAL PARODY”
WHEN|WHERE 8 p.m. Jan. 25 at the YMCA Boulton Center in Bay Shore
INFO 631-969-1101, boultoncenter.org