If you loved “Friends,” get ready for the off-Broadway show “Friends! The Musical Parody,” a tribute that includes hilarious dance moments from the beloved TV series. (Remember Ross and Monica’s crazy routine? Watch it below!)
Now onstage at St. Luke’s Theatre in Manhattan, “Friends! The Musical Parody” is directed and choreographed by Paul Stancato. He gave Dance.com a peek into the process of incorporating movement into the show to lift theatrical moments and tell the story of those classic 1990s-era pals.
What is your approach as a choreographer for the dance in the show?
When you’re dealing with parody, everything has to be heightened. What I’ve done is I’ve created this vocabulary movement-wise for each character, and when I choreograph, I think about how that character would move in the show. I try to design choreography to resemble that.
I’ve also explored movement with the actors playing the roles. We’ve had dance-offs in rehearsal. We’ll form a circle and just improv and dance as your character as I play ’90s music in the background. Then I’ll watch them interpret a move and I can take that and exaggerate it further. It’s very much a collaborative process.
There are a few dance moments in the series, such as Ross and Monica’s “routine.” Are you incorporating those in the musical?
We definitely have the routine, but I’m also modifying a little bit because we also deal with rights. We want to pay homage to the original and respect the original and then take that up a notch and make it ours. I’m not really big into completely ripping off everything from the show directly. We make it our own and still maintain that wink and nod to the audience from the original.
What are some other moments from the show that become dance moments in the musical?
Well, we also pay homage to classical musical theater in general. For instance, there’s one song called “Central Perk Tango,” and that is an homage to “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago.”
You mentioned ’90s music, what are some ’90s dance moves in the show?
You’ve got the Tom and Jerry in there, you’ve got the Roger Rabbit. I grew up in the ’90s so I went back and grabbed a lot of those dance moves. If you are a dancer who is very well-versed in 90s dance moves, you’ll definitely get a lot out of this show.