Personals is the brainchild of Marta Kauffman and David Crane, creators of Friends. Although written several years before Friends was conceived (the play was originally produced in New York in 1985), the Personals characters are recognisable as the embryos of the now household personalities of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Joey and Chandler.
Also set in New York, like Friends, Personals explores the perils and pleasures of blind dating via the 'personal ads' industry as well as the merits of going it alone and the desolate yearning for that special someone. Among the serial lonely hearts on revue are: nervous next door neighbours unwittingly answering each other's advertisements; a lonely singleton taking lessons from an interactive self-help tape; a young divorcee pining for her ex-husband; and a couple finding happiness with a 'bisexual transvestite dwarf' dressed as Carmen Miranda.
The book and lyrics are by Crane and Kauffman, together with Seth Friedman. The score is by various composers including Oscar winners Alan Menken (whose credits include Little Shop of Horrors and several Disney movies) and Godspell composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz, as well as Michael Skloff, who wrote 'I'll Be There for You', the Friends' signature tune, recorded by The Rembrandts.
The cast for the West End production of Personals are Martin Callagan, Marcus Allen Cooper, Carmen Cusack, Christina Fry, David Malek and Vicki Simon. It is directed by Dion McHugh with musical direction by Matthew Freeman and designed by Susie Caulcutt with lighting design by Nick Richings, choreography by Sam Spencer-Lane and sound design by Scott Myers.