Friends! The Musical is a loving parody of your favorite '90s show
Tobly McSmith, the co-creator of the off-Broadway parody Friends! The Musical, chats with us about making fun of a beloved show, his first NYC apartment and Janice.
UPDATE: Friends! The Musical will be closing on July 22, 2018. Tickets for its remaining dates at St. Luke’s Theater are $44-$74 and available through Telecharge.
For New Yorkers, irony is the default. Maybe it’s the all-black wardrobes or the nihilistic sense of humor we develop to survive here. Whatever the reason, we’re not comfortable with sincerity — unless you’re talking about NBC’s Friends.
Like the rest of the world, even after 13 years, New York still unironically loves its hometown show (despite the fact that it wasn’t actually filmed here). So you probably feel some trepidation about the idea of a new off-Broadway musical parody of the Must See TV show.
Don’t worry though: Friends! The Musical is in the good hands of Tobly and Bob McSmith, the same duo who brought us the Saved by the Bell musical Bayside! and the Kardashian family set to the tunes of Cats in Katdashians! Break the Musical.
And they want you to know there’s nothing to worry about. “It’s a loving tribute parody,” says Tobly McSmith. “This is one of the most beloved TV shows that ever happened, and so you have to get it right. And it was also 10 seasons, that’s a lot to cover, too.
“I feel like everything that we have written has gotten us to the point of being able to do this one.”
Beginning performances Oct. 13 at St. Luke’s Theater, Friends! The Musical brings back Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe to live, love and sing songs like The Only Coffee Shop in New York City and 45 Grove St. — How Can We Afford This Place?
That one especially resonated with McSmith, whose first apartment in the city in Park Slope bore no resemblance to his expectations from the show.
“As a kid growing up in Texas, watching a show about New York where I eventually wanted to move was amazing,” he says. “When my apartment was 100 square feet and looked nothing like Monica’s, that was tough.”
Maybe the fantasy of New York is what we all really enjoyed. Or maybe it was the amazing pop culture references that will of course have their moments to shine in the show: Smelly Cat and Fat Monica, Ugly Naked Guy and Janice — whom the creators fervently hope will drop by the show as a guest star.
The production also tackles the behind-the-scenes drama, especially the then-unprecedented $1 million-per-episode salaries and the actors’ personal lives.
In the end though, as the final song of the show promises, what really matters is that We’ll Always Be There for You.
“[Friends] is even still funny when you look back,” McSmith says. “Some of the shows we’ve written parodies for aren’t funny once you revisit them, but Friends is really funny.”
Performances of Friends! The Musical begin on Oct. 13, with opening night set for Nov. 2, at St. Luke’s Theater, 308 W. 46th St. Tickets are $39.50-$69.50.