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Could they BE more entertaining?: SMUTS presents ‘The One With All The Singing, Friends: The Musical Parody’

“We’re six people who have no other friends!”

Ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time and sit in on a live recording of classic 90s sitcom, Friends, only with more singing and more genuine laughter? Well, after just four weeks of rehearsal and production, SMUTS had us covered. ‘The One With All The Singing’ presents “all your favourite characters… and Ross” in a spangled and spirited new light.

With their latest theatrical venture, SMUTS (directed by Chloe Cunliffe and Shannon Duff) capitalised on the recent resurgence of Friends fanatics. And they were clearly onto something, breaking SMUTs records with a complete four-night sell-out prior to opening night… and we can certainly see why.

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You know the words…

The venue for the show, the debating chamber, was used creatively to its full potential. With twelve cast members and three stage hands squeezed backstage and a seamlessly revolving set, they really made the most of this unassuming space. The revolving set was complete with Monica’s (Gabriella Coleman) trademark lilac walls and framed peep-hole on one side and Central Perk signage on the other.

The stage even had room for a brilliant four-piece band that were not only tight and tuneful in delivering Helena MacCormack’s original music (including a brilliant theme song with nods and *claps* to the original Friends theme), but were also fully involved in the action, prompting the charmingly clueless Joey (Isaac Han) with his lines. Truly not missing a musical opportunity, pleasing off-stage choral vocals could also be heard over the band.

The script (co-authored by Poppy Bignell and Tristan Brunt) was witty, clever, and bursting with meta, self-aware nods to the TV series’ transition to the theatrical stage. For instance, with Joey’s starring role in Act Two’s ‘Stage Hands The Musical’, their tongues were shoved firmly in their cheeks. We’d also like to thank the writers for keeping Ugly Naked Guy in his usual off-stage role, although a surprise appearance from the chick and the duck would have truly made the show.

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However, with almost all of the jokes being plucked straight from references to the classic 90s series, you definitely had to have watched Friends once in your life. But what student hasn’t binged it during at least one assessment season?

Despite a few mic difficulties that led to some being lost, MacCormack’s original lyrics highlighted what we know and love about the characters whilst unveiling new parts of our favourite Friends that the series left untapped: as much as it pained us, we actually felt a bit sorry for Ross (Leo Maffei), Monica’s control freakery was unleashed in rapid, wordy verses and, most importantly, Gunther was given a voice in his very own power ballad with Rachel – and boy did they have voices (Alex Beharrell’s and Stella Pollard’s vocals stole the show!)

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Glazing over a few questionable American accents, other performance highlights have to be the awkward and playful chemistry achieved seamlessly in Gabriella Coleman’s and Rohan Maxim Mirkovic’s portrayals of Monica and Chandler; and, just as we thought we hadn’t seen enough of Phoebe, Aine Caunter whipped out a poorly-strung guitar and brought her back with a signature quirky and ever-so-slightly creepy final song (only slightly thrown-off by the mic dynamics with some imbalanced choral vocals). The only inaccuracy was that she could actually sing!

With the show’s triumphantly fast sell-out and a delivery that did not disappoint, we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the SMUTS programme in the coming year.

Photos courtesy of Malcolm Tam