Friday, September 22, 2023

Friends-Themed Musical Murder Mystery Theatre Comes to Hamilton This Weekend

Grab your magnifying glass- there’s a mystery a foot in Hamilton this weekend. 

The Royal Canadian Legion on Limeridge Road East turns into Central Perk this weekend. Yes, that Central Perk- the one from the classic TV-sitcom Friends. And it’s within that coffee shop with those well-known characters that an interactive murder mystery dinner theatre occurs.

The show begins Saturday night at the beloved coffee shop where an open mic fundraiser, hosted by Phoebe is booked at the same time as a surprise party for Monica. The murder takes place partway through the show, with the audience- there for either the fundraiser or party- invited to help solve the mystery. Those who guess the murderer correctly can win a prize.

The idea to take those well-known characters and transport them into a new setting is the brainchild of Theresa Noon-Hunter; the founder and Artistic Director of There’s A Production

“Just over ten years ago, I decided I was tired of the road and wanted more than the grind of auditioning for others,” Noon-Hunter recalled. “So I teamed up with [actor and writer] Rick [Simm] to create original shows and produce them myself. I have produced other writers’ original Canadian plays, but Rick and I started creating original musical murder mysteries.”

In addition to the Friends-themed production, Noon-Hunter has also created murder mysteries based on The Golden Girls; Orange is the New Black; The Johnny Carson Show; The Addams Family and more. In every instance, Noon-Hunter says her goal is to give the audience a night of laughter, good food and good company. Shows are family-friendly, and a three-course meal is built into the show’s structure. In this weekend’s Friends production, catering is provided by Zarky’s Fine Foods and a licensed bar is onsite. While every show has familiar characters and settings, the shows are parodies of the sitcoms. 

“We also a use a lot of satire in our writing.” assures Noon-Hunter.

In creating a murder mystery, Noon-Hunter and Simms imagine a story together. 

“I let him know what I would like to happen, what characters to be involved and he writes the script.” says Noon-Hunter in describing the creation process. “After a few passes of drafts, I then write the music, which is again a parody of the original songs. The shows themselves are more like spectacles. The audience has the opportunity to become involved or they can simply be entertained and watch.” 

While there is a set story and script, the actors are also prepared for improvised interactions as they venture from table to table. The unpredictability of those moments is one of her favourite parts of the evening, says Noon-Hunter.

In this Saturday’s production, five actors will play eight characters. Only Zoe Faulkner (Rachel) and Jessica Tutin (Phoebe) play single roles. Toby Babcock doubles as both Joey and Gunther; Ralph Tutin plays Chandler and Ross and Noon-Hunter performs as both Janice and Monica.

Noon-Hunter is aware that a risk exists in portraying such beloved characters in such a familiar setting. She’s spent plenty of time in the leadup to Saturday’s production to secure costumes, props and set pieces that will bring the story to life. Actors have been studying the characters voices and mannerisms. 

“The challenge in casting, is that shows like Friends have extremely well known characters so the actors cast need to be able to portray them successfully.” says Noon-Hunter. “We have thankfully been able to do this.”

Noon-Hunter’s formula has already proven to be a hit. A March edition of this same show in Brantford sold out, with over one hundred audience members in attendance. As of the time of publication, the Hamilton performance this Saturday is also sold-out. It remains to be seen whether the hunger for this production will result in a rerun.

Who: There’s A Production
What: Friends: The One With the Murder
Where: Royal Canadian Legion Branch 163 (435 Limeridge Road East)
When: May 20 at 6pm
Tickets: $55 for dinner + show at

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