ROSS, RACHEL, MONICA, CHANDLER, PHOEBE AND JOEY BRING “CENTRAL PERK’ TO SOMA
THE OASIS CONTINUES THEIR SWEEP OF STAGING CLASSIC SITCOMS TO THE DELIGHT OF BAY AREA FANS
‘FRIENDS LIVE!’ IS A HIT
11th and Folsom opens “Central Perk” the coffee shop from the hit sitcom FRIENDS. The SF Oasis has turned iconic television sitcoms into hit Live Shows! Golden Girls, Three's Company, Star Trek and Sex in the City have sold out houses of adoring fans. FRIENDS LIVE! is only through March 9th. Hip millennials are excited to see six Friends in drag and heels. D'Arcy Drollinger and Heklina have finally hit the attention of Bay Area Critics and Theatre Bay Area winning some honored attention for their 2018 season. I am not sure FRIENDS LIVE! Will bring Tony to SF, but clever, witty, director Nancy French who is featured in the camp adaptation of FRIENDS, brings the best of SF Oasis talent to SOMO stage. FRIENDS is one of the most popular TV series that survived 10 years on NBC’s famous line up of Thursday night Sitcoms.
The misadventures of mid 20 year old friends in New York City: Joey a struggling actor, Monica a chef, Rachel a waitress who hopes to work in fashion, Ross a paleontologist, Chandler who hates his job in data processing, and Phoebe a musician and physical therapist. This average group of buddies go through comic mayhem, family fails, past and future romances, fights, laughs, tears and surprises. They learn what it really means to be a friend, but dressed in drag and Carrie Davis eye candy costumes are camp perfect .
To be honest I was not a huge fan of FRIENDS, it was never a very diverse cast of Gen Xer’s, but so many of my peers lived for the six white goofballs. I realize Seinfeld was also white washed but that was my guilty pleasure of the late 90’s. Fans cheer this Marx brothers cast of drag kings and queens.
The story of FRIENDS was always simple, set in a New York City coffee cafe. D’Arcy and her writing team mixed a few episodes to create a two act story that features some classic FRIENDS themes. The very funny “Joey butt doubles for Al Pacino” his new agent manages to obtain him a role in the new Al Pacino movie. However, the role is Pacino's butt double in a shower scene. Despite this, Joey manages to ruin it by overacting his role, which gets him fired. The friends console him and reassure him that his big butt break is coming.
The FRIENDS are all keen comic actors and keep these Oasis spoofs sparkling with camp glee fun. Monica Geller, a New York City chef, is played by the terrific Steven LeMay who is perfect as the cleanliness phobia nut case. Struggling Jersey actor Joey Tribbiani is played by the marvelous Melanie Marshall who adds the classic macho “how youz doing” to the sold out Oasis audience’s delight.
The impressive Nancy French plays Chandler Bing, and is clever and sarcastic. Chandler attributes his sarcasm as a defense mechanism he developed due to his parents' divorcing when he was a child. Chandler works as an IT procurements manager and in season One he owned a monkey named Marcel. French who is also the Director fills the stage with the six players as much as possible keeping their slap stick timing perfect.
Masseuse and musician Phoebe Buffay is played by the hilarious Sue Casa proving her failed musical skills. The classic SMELLY CAT song is a highlight “Smelly cat, smelly cat/ What are they feeding you?/ Smelly cat, smelly cat/ It's not your fault/ They won't take you to the vet/ You're obviously not their favorite pet/ You may not be a bed of roses/ And you're no friend to those with noses/ Smelly cat… “
Ross Geller, Monica’s brother, is played by the appealing Carol Walker who has the perfect comic timing with Steven LaMay as he flirts and acts like a true idiot with his popping umbrella. The set design is by Sarah Phykitt, who uses a photo backdrop for Central Perk and the girls apartment. But the iconic couch is an important prop that the six players use to flip and flop and as they over exaggerate some great sexual tension.
French uses the first season story line to introduce the cast and we meet Rachel still in her wedding dress. The tall goofy Caleb Haven Draper shows the best narcissism to show off Rachel’s air head reason from walking away from her wedding. The script is filled with pop references, gags about Al Pacino, headlines and Mentos mints.
The cast delivers the barrage of banter with an arch coyness that suggests they think they’re in some Gen X in drag Neil Simon play. “Friends” comes across like a 30-minute commercial for Dockers or Ikea or light beer, except it’s smuttier. One of the friends says he dreamed he had a telephone for a penis and when it rang, “it turns out it’s my mother.” Some added gay clowning brings the audience to cheers and await the classic lines for the six players.
Lighting Design by Sophia Craven, Videos by Richard Neveu keep the show fun and bright. The sold out crowds, a mix of fans and Oasis regulars, cheer on the cast. The show includes one intermission and non stop laughs. FRIENDS LIVE! I am sure will return with more episodes as D’Arcy and her team enjoy the sold out crowds. Next up at the south of market stage is BALONEY - A Boys romp on a wild journey from wrestling ring to circus tent that opens March 23rd. But in the meantime join the cast of FRIENDS LIVE! And come ready to sing “Smelly Cat” with Phoebe.
D'Arcy Drollinger and Oasis Present
Directed by Nancy French
Must Close March 9, 2019
Thursday at 8pm, Friday & Saturday at 7PM
Two hours one intermission
Tickets are $27.50-$50 available at http://sfoasis.com
Oasis, 298 Eleventh St. @Folsom St.), SF CA 94103
Photo’s by Gooch and Vmediaa
Directed by Nancy French. Featuring Nancy French, Caleb Haven Draper, Sue Casa, Steven LeMay, Carol Anne Walker & Melanie Marshall. Set design by Sarah Phykitt. Lighting Design by Sophia Craven. Videos by Richard Neveu.
SMELLY CAT SONG