BWW Interview: FRIENDS! THE MUSICAL PARODY's Sami Griffith Will Happily Be There For You
While the beloved, hit sitcom Friends originally ran for ten seasons ending in 2004, you can still easily find reruns of these enduring episodes in continuous syndication. Right Angle Entertainment will be bringing Bob and Tobly McSmith's Off-Broadway theatrical hit FRIENDS! THE MUSICAL PARODY to the Kirk Douglas Theatre for its Los Angeles premiere July 16, 2019. I had the opportune time to query Sami Griffith on her role of perennial fan favorite Rachel Green.
Thank you for taking this time for this interview, Sami!
How are you enjoying the tour so far?
This tour has been exactly the adventure I've been looking for. I love playing this role, I love my cast, and I love traveling; so it's been a dream come true.
Have you always liked/loved Rachel's signature hair style?
Absolutely! My sister and I tried cutting our hair into "the Rachel" our entire childhood, but it never looked right. Now, I get the wear "the Rachel" every night!
Were you a Friends aficionado? Or did you become one with this tour?
I grew up watching Friends every Thursday with my parents and my sister. Rach, Mon and Pheebs were huge role models for me. They were independent, not afraid of their sexuality and unapologetically themselves.
Do you have a favorite episode?
My favorite is "The One Where Ross is Fine." It's absolutely hilarious and a master class in comedic acting.
Do you know if any of the original television cast or creatives have come to see your show?
I don't think they have yet, but I would love it if they did!
You started with FRIENDS, understudying Rachel at the St. Lukes Theater in June 2018. Which made you more excited - landing the understudy role? Or being cast as the touring Rachel?
Ooh! That's a great question. Both felt so special and very different. When I was cast at St. Luke's, I was actually an understudy for Rachel, Phoebe and Monica. I was very excited, but also terrified to do all three of them justice. When I booked Rachel for the tour, I had already performed the show, and Rachel was my favorite. I was thrilled to be able to share her with audiences across the country.
Any particular audience responses so far that took you by surprise?
I knew the sitcom was loved, but I didn't realize how therapeutic it was to so many people. I've met many audience members who used Friends as a comfort during hard times; like injury, breakups and illness. We've had quite a few teary eyed audience members thanking us because of the cathartic memories this very silly show has brought back.
Have you worked with any of FRIENDS cast or creatives before?
This is the first time we've all worked together, although it feels like we've known each other forever!
FRIENDS is such a light-hearted, fun show; how long did it take for the group of you to bond?
So quickly! The rehearsal process was wild and fun and FAST, and we were true FRIENDS almost instantly. Our little family has only grown stronger since then. We've traveled coast to coast eating, sleeping, performing and living together. It's not often your co-workers are also your roommates, and also your best friends. We realize how lucky we are that we all truly like each other.
Is there one city you're performing in that you're most anxious to visit and explore?
I cannot wait to see San Diego. I did my undergrad at UCSD, and it's my favorite place in the world. I look forward to showing the cast Mission Beach, La Jolla, The Gaslamp Quarter, and also feeding them all the lobster tacos they can eat.
Will this tour be ending August 17 in San Luis Obispo? Or is there a possibility of added cities?
The show has had such a wonderful response, I wouldn't be surprised if more shows were added. But as far as I know, San Luis Obispo is our last stop!
Since you've delved deeply into the character of Rachel Green, what would you say Rachel would be doing since she's gone off the air in 2004?
That's a good question! I would guess she and Ross are happily raising Emma and Ben, while she gets to live her dreams as a fashion executive splitting her time between Paris and New York (and sometimes Milan). She's good friends with Anna Wintour, but also a little afraid of her. Every year, she hosts an extravagant fundraiser for women's reproductive rights called "No Uterus, No Opinion." She is, of course, still best friends with her FRIENDS, and they still get together every Thanksgiving. She is still terrible at football.
Which would you prefer the Kirk Douglas audiences to leave after your curtain call - humming the Rembrandt's "I'll Be There For You"? Or quoting a signature line from one of your crazy characters?
As long as they leave laughing, I am happy. Lord knows, we all need a laugh right now.
Thank you again, Sami! I'm looking forward to you six Friends being there for me!
For ticket availability and show schedule through August 4, 2019 at the Kirk Douglas; log onto www.KirkDouglasTheatre.org
For tickets and tour schedule through August 17, 2019; log onto www.friendsparodyontour.com