This week, Playbill checks in with Samantha Pauly, who created the role of Katherine Howard in the Broadway production of the international hit SIX. She had played the role since 2019's pre-Broadway North American tour and gave her final performance in the Toby Marlow-Lucy Moss musical December 4, 2022.
Pauly, who also starred in the title role of Evita at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London, launches a monthly residency at the New York cabaret Chelsea Table + Stage January 23. Her first performance will feature special guests Brittney Mack (SIX), Trent Saunders (Hadestown), and Eleri Ward (Acoustic Sondheim). Subsequent concerts are scheduled for February 27 and March 27. Click here for additional information.
In the interview below, Pauly—who has also been seen in the national tour of Bat Out of Hell as well as in regional productions of Honeymoon in Vegas, Godspell, Seussical, Hairspray, Elf the Musical, and Beaches—reflects on her time in the Broadway production of SIX, shares what audiences can expect from her upcoming cabaret evenings, and also reveals her dream stage roles (she has three of them).
What is your typical day like now?
I finally get to rest a lot, which sometimes I'm not good at. My body has gotten used to being busy and going all the time, so actively resting is hard for me. I'm back to teaching lessons virtually when I can, and I'm about to start a workshop this week. I have a lot more time to see my friends, visit family, and hang out with my dogs.
Looking back at your journey with SIX, can you share a favorite memory on stage and a favorite memory backstage?
I think my favorite memory on stage was our first show back from the shutdown, and our final time singing, "For five more minutes..." on December 4th. In both of those moments, I really tried to take in every single second and notice, not only my friends on stage, but the audience as well.
My favorite memory backstage, I think, was our very first day at the theatre in 2020. I originally shared a dressing room [pre-Broadway] with Andrea [Macasaet] and Brittney [Mack]. When we got into our dressing room and saw our costumes hanging up, we all fell on the floor and cried together.
Why do you think the musical has been such a hit around the world?
I think it speaks to female identifying individuals of all ages in a modern way. It shows how far we've come, but how far we still have to go, and the issues people still deal with today. Combine that with original music that is modern and pop/rock, and I think that's what gives it the ability to speak to anyone who enjoys an empowering show.
Tell me a bit about your upcoming residency at Chelsea Table + Stage. What can attendees expect?
My solo show is always a good time, very chill, and I like to keep it very relaxed. I don't do formal for these kinds of things because it makes me feel like I have more of a connection with the audience, and I want them to feel like they're on my level for 75 minutes. I'm also very candid about experiences and things in my life, so there will be no stepping into a character and removing Sam from the stage for a few minutes in a song. There will always be some standards that I do in the show every month, some staples that my music director and I have decided on. But each month I'll have new guests and new songs.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow artists, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
Theatre is changing, slowly, but it's changing. We've got to get on board and support it. So many amazing new shows came in this season and last season and had their closing far too soon (A Strange Loop, Ain't No Mo’, to name a few). These are shows that are changing the narrative and creating representation on the stage for people who do not feel seen or heard. And then those shows don't get the proper support from audiences because they don't look or sound like what they've been used to for so long. We have to change our idea of what theatre is or should be. We need to make theatre, and Broadway especially, more accessible to the people we could be shaping and people who will grow up and continue to change the landscape of theatre.
What, if anything, did you learn about yourself during the past two years that you didn't already know?
I was able to get back into therapy regularly, so there were a lot of things that I uncovered and unpacked. I was able to use those things and work through trauma when I got back into SIX and the role of Katherine Howard. I think the time away reshaped me, not only as a performer, but as Sam Pauly in general. I know now what I will and will not tolerate, what I deserve, and what I want to work towards.
Do you have a dream stage role?
I have three! Elphaba in Wicked, Kate in Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party, and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
I would say to learn more about any organizations that help marginalized and those struggling with their mental health. I regularly donate to the Trevor Project, but I would say to find a cause that speaks to you or one you feel passionate about, and research what organizations exist. Google is free—everyone has the power to make a change if they really want to.