When it hasn’t been your day, your week... Friendsical is the answer

Central Perk comes to Derry's Millennium Forum for a musical reimagining of the iconic 90s sitcom

2019 has everyone yearning for a simpler time; when smelly cat reigned supreme, choppy bangs were on trend and the only remain campaign people cared about was Rachel not getting on that plane!

Marking 25 years since the TV cult classic graced our screens, Friendsical (Friends the Musical for the less enlightened) is a healthy dose of musical parody and Friends combined- just what the doctor order as respite from this chaotic world. Most millennials were reared on these six colourful characters, their lives becoming all too relatable as we descend into the murky world of adulthood.

I can still hear the prophetic words of Monica Geller echoing 'Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re going to love it.' And that’s why the seminal series has garnered global success; its deliciously quotable lines continue to slip into everyday conversation, collectively understood no matter the company. Could they be any more quotable?

Now writer and self-confessed Friends fanatic, Miranda Larson has taken on the momentous task of cramming in a decade's worth of episodes into just one performance, in this loving tribute.

Tipped amongst critics' ‘must-sees’ at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Friendsical is a hit with the big leagues. Testament to the incredible writing skills of Larson and no doubt the talents of the cast, the show is currently playing back to back sell-out performances at one of the event’s biggest stages. Culture NI caught up with cast member Charlotte Elisabeth Yorke who plays Rachel Green, moments after a performance. Breathless but chirpy, she tells us the Fringe experience has been a whirlwind with audiences loving every second.

'If it wasn’t difficult enough, we’ve condensed the musical down to 90 minutes for this circuit - it has been hectic but so well received,' she said. Praising Larson for ‘cramming it all in,' Charlotte assures there is something for everyone- from the out and out Friends enthusiast to those who have never watched an episode (come on, who hasn’t seen a single episode?)

'All the iconic moments from the original TV series are accounted for of course. It’s lovely seeing faces of fans along the front row recognising their favourite lines, catching that moment when it slowly dawns on them...that’s the one I was waiting for!' she laughs.

Not immune to the colossal pressure of living up to the beloved Jennifer Aniston, Charlotte confesses playing Rachel is not without its challenges. Undertaking the ‘laborious’ research task of re-watching episodes of the hit series, she admits to studying Aniston’s portrayal. 'I have borrowed bits of her personality and intonations but I’ve had to find myself in Rachel too.' She adds, 'I’m not trying to be her- no-one could be as brilliant as Jennifer.'

Granted, it is no mean feat taking on this beloved classic. Yet 90s nostalgia is having somewhat of a cultural revival, seeping back onto the catwalks and airwaves.

'Yeah it’s having a real moment,' Charlotte agrees. 'It’s funny, even at the Fringe, acts have given a nod to the era, deriving inspiration from the Spice Girls and Cruel Intentions. There’s a definitely a 90s vibe going on in Friendsical too - plenty of haircuts. Enough said,' she laughs.

'Even the musical score has been inspired by 90s songs used throughout the TV series.'

Aided by musical composer Barrie Bignold’s craftmanship, the hit series lends itself well to a musical reimagining. 'It is such a heightened show anyway, that the next logical step was to add music.' Charlotte attests that earworms such as '(He’s her) Lobster!' and 'Richard’s Moustache' are guaranteed to stay with audiences for days, adding that the big finale song (and her personal favourite) is set to delight.

'It is intrinsic to the entire show, tying everything together. It’s a really nice moment getting all the cast together and of course the audience’s involvement.

'Ultimately it’s an uplifting end to a feel-good stage production. I promise everyone will leave with a big grin on their faces, knowing they’ve had fun with friends,' she concludes.

Who needs an excuse to revisit the characters we all know and love in their newly musical amplified glory? Whether for the philosophical musings of Joey's ‘How you doin’?’ or Phoebe’s delightfully zany anecdotes- Friends (or rather ‘Friendsical’) will be there for you, like they’ve been there before. So, don’t be a Gunther and get involved with the gang!

Friendsical is at the Millennium Forum from 28- 31 August. Tickets can be Tickets can be purchased online at www.millenniumforum.com/tickets or call the Box Office on 028 7126 4455