Review: Samantha Pauly Shows Off Why She's Still The Queen In AN EVENING WITH SAMANTHA PAULY at Chelsea Table + Stage

Meet the woman behind the crown in her first residency!

By: Jan. 25, 2023
Review: Samantha Pauly Shows Off Why She's Still The Queen In AN EVENING WITH SAMANTHA PAULY at Chelsea Table + Stage

Samantha Pauly could probably take over the world. The leading lady certainly has already got the following for it. Best known as the OG Katherine Howard in SIX on Broadway, Samantha began her Chelsea Table + Stage residency this past Monday and the packed audience was loud and loving. In An Evening with Samantha Pauly, Samantha (or Sam, as she's known to her friends) masterly showed off the pipes and storytelling that has made her an icon on both Broadway and the West End. We also got a glimpse into who Samantha is offstage, in vulnerable moments delivered simply and honestly. Samantha Pauly is the type of star that has her own orbit, and I am more than happy to be caught up in it!

In a head-to-toe teal outfit, Samantha gave us everything an audience could want in a solo show. From charming guests with whom she clearly had authentic, deep relationships to unexpected musical selections featuring her beloved belt, and genuine stories to go along with them, Samantha is setting up for a very successful run. An Evening with Samantha Pauly is simultaneously live streamed for the fans who can't make it to Chelsea, and while I'm grateful for the increase in accessibility, especially as various viruses continue to be in flux, it seemed to take her a moment to find the balance between playing to the folks at home and her in-person audience. However, any difficulty with the equipoise of focuses was momentary, as she quickly developed a familiar and conversational tone with the crowd. An Evening with Samantha Pauly is a prime example of the best of the best doing what they do best, and having the best time while doing it.

I want to give a special mention to Samantha's music director, pianist, and backup singer, Adam Cole Klepper. Leading a band made up of David Mayers on guitar, Nick Potocki with bass, and Jed Feder providing percussion, it seemed like Adam spent the whole night smiling, while watching his friend and collaborator slay the audience with his arrangements. Some of my favorite moments of the whole night were his transitions. His jazzy progression from "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" to Ariana Grande's "POV," in particular, prompted whoops and cheers from the audience, and Samantha herself described the interlude as "nice to my ears." It was very nice to my ears as well! An unexpected treat, Adam deftly navigated the tonal and stylistic differences of Broadway and Top 40 with confidence and skill, and without ever taking his fingers off the keys.

Over the course of the evening, Samantha gifted the audience with a relatively even mix of contemporary radio hits and iconic numbers from the stage, and there wasn't a dud in sight. Her biggest successes, though, were pieces that came with an emotional connection, such as "Waving Through a Window" from Dear Evan Hansen. Her intro to this number was a very emotional anecdote about her personal relationship to the piece. The audience had previously been given permission to be as responsive as they liked, and the verbal feedback that they gave, such as shouts of "We love you!" seemed to bolster her confidence that the story she was telling was worth sharing. Artists are expected to pour their hearts out on stage, but I've noticed that many have a hard time understanding that their own personal stories are worthwhile. Samantha seemed to have this struggle, occasionally letting the audience know that she wouldn't talk long, but it's those honest, unguarded moments that not only make an audience feel like they're seeing something truly special but can launch the artist into a powerful and similarly uninhibited performance. Her delivery of "Waving Through a Window" gave me goosebumps, and, of course, the vocals were flawless, but it was Samantha's ability to be honest about her struggles that provided me with what I needed to really lean in.

Each and every one of the guests gave a stand-out performance, and all three clearly had such love and respect for Samantha (and she for them) that watching them perform felt like the best version of hanging out with your buddies. Presenting varied and thoughtful choices, Eleri Ward, Trent Saunders, and Brittney Mack each contributed to the show in such a substantial way that I couldn't have imagined the night without them. Eleri, who recently shot into the spotlight with her indie folk Sondheim covers and therefore solidly in her wheelhouse, brought her guitar to duet with Samantha on a hauntingly beautiful "Unworthy of Your Love.' Trent, who met Samantha during their run as Che and Eva at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in London, was utterly charming as the adorkable Emmett Forest to Samantha's Elle Woods in "Take It Like A Man." Brittney, who, of course, starred with Samantha in SIX as Anna of Cleaves (and who Samantha refers to as her best friend) gave us a lovely, genuine version of the ultimate BFF song "For Good." Each guest had such fabulous chemistry and easy demeanor with Samantha, that all I can say is: duo shows when?

Whether you're a hardcore member of the Queendom or not, An Evening With Samantha Pauly is a show for all audiences. Go, take a night off to eat some yummy calamari and listen to one of Broadway's newest stars as she sings whatever magical setlist she and Adam have come up with for the evening. Enjoy that feeling of making a new friend, or seeing a side of the second Katherine that you may have not expected. Live stream the show if you must, because that's an option! Experience Samantha Pauly killing it in the cabaret setting where she thrives, and when you do, let's chat and gush!

An Evening With Samantha Pauly plays every 27th through March at Chelsea Table + Stage. Get your tickets here.

Check out Samantha's Instagram here.

Header photo by Claire McConnell. Check out Claire's photography here.