Friends! The Musical Parody? More like a musical parasite, amirite? | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Friends! The Musical Parody? More like a musical parasite, amirite?

This cruise-ship-ready cash grab is 90s nostalgia run amok.

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At first glance, the premise of Bob and Tobly McSmith's cruise-ship-ready cash grab sounds like the sort of ironic musical-theater spoof that would be conceived by the irreverent and clever sketch writers and improvisers over at iO or the Annoyance—maybe for $10 a ticket in a late-night slot. And in the hands of those kids who are discovering the iconic series two decades after the fact, there's probably some legitimate comedic material to be wrested from nostalgia for both the 90s and the heyday of must-see-TV network sitcoms.

Don't be misled; this is not that show. Instead, for the price of a rack of lamb and a cocktail across the street at the Signature Room, the Broadway Playhouse presents this astonishingly cheap and seemingly template-generated mashup of the most obvious Friends references and punch lines plugged into musical-theater standards from shows like Rent and Chicago. Remember how funny it was when Ross yelled "Pivot!" while moving a couch? Here's a whole number about it. Remember when Joey's head got stuck inside Monica's Thanksgiving turkey? Here's that same joke onstage for some reason.

Whenever director Tim Drucker's production does make the occasional stab at commentary or originality, it does so by way of bottom-barrel Leno monologue material of the era: Matthew Perry had a pill addiction! The cast made a lot of money! Laughing yet?

In earnest, this isn't really a parody; it's a parasite.   v

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