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Bettendorf native Samantha Pauly landed the role of a lifetime – a real British queen, reflected as a modern rock star – but her opening night on Broadway was canceled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 18 months after that painful March 2020 Thursday night, the 31-year-old Pleasant Valley High alum will return with the same original cast of the new musical “Six,” opening in New York City Sept. 17, 2021 in previews, then a long-awaited Broadway opening Oct. 3.

“It’s very exciting to finally have a date,” Pauly said in a recent phone interview, noting they’re not sure how long the Broadway contract will run through.

After being shuttered since March 12, 2020, “Hamilton,” “Wicked” and “The Lion King” — three of

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

Pauly performed “All You Wanna Do” (Katherine’s main song in “Six”) from home last June.

Broadway’s most popular musicals – are set to reopen first, on Sept. 14.

The recent news came one week after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Broadway theaters would reopen just after Labor Day at full capacity.

At that time, the governor did not specify which shows would be operating on this timeline, as individual productions may require more time to hire or rehire actors, crew and other in-house employees as well as conduct rehearsals, according to cnbc.com.

At the time of the shutdown, Broadway supported 97,000 full-time jobs, with 31 productions running, including eight new shows in previews, according to the Broadway League. Additionally, eight more productions were in rehearsals preparing to open in the spring of 2020.

The September 2021 reopening timeline also depends on the state government’s approval of each theater’s

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

“Six” authors Lucy Moss, left, and Toby Marlow, photographed by Pamela Raith.

health and safety protocols.

A Playbill article recently noted: “Six, in its structure, is perhaps well suited to weather these complications. The title doesn’t lie: the cast only features a half dozen performers, with a small, on-stage orchestra. A unit set minimizes operating costs. Its 75-minute runtime can ensure audiences file in and exit safely with little-to-no mingling or intermission snacking.”

“Aladdin,” “Six,” “Come From Away” and “Chicago” are expected to reopen in September while “Jagged Little Pill,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Ain’t Too Proud” have opening dates set in October. The new “Diana” musical (which will premiere on Netflix Oct. 1) and the Michael Jackson musical, “MJ,” are slated to open in December.

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“Six” is a British musical by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, which premiered in 2017 at Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of King Henry VIII (1491-1547) as a high-tech pop concert. The brief synopsis on the show website says of the wives’ fates – “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.”

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

All of the original “Six” cast will return when the musical returns to Broadway Sept. 17, 2021 in previews.

“From Tudor Queens to pop princesses, the Six wives of Henry VIII take the mic to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st-century girl power!” says sixonbroadway.com.

“This new original musical is the global sensation that everyone is losing their head over,” it says, noting The New York Times called it “pure entertainment” and the Evening Standard called it “the most uplifting new British musical…”

A May 2019 review (of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater production) at newcitystage.com said: “Part musical competition, part history lesson, this 75-minute rock-star performance deserves the continual applause and cheers it received from the crowd on opening night.

“Musical theater at large should be grateful that the women of ‘Six’ (Adrianna Hicks, Andrea Macasaet, Abby Mueller, Brittney Mack, Samantha Pauly, and Anna Uzele) are treading the boards instead of headlining their own concert venues. They are a powerhouse ensemble with the vocality of icons like Beyonce, Adele, Rihanna and Alicia Keys.”

A July 2019 review at hpherald.com said the show’s “most gut-wrenching tale comes from Samantha Pauly as Katherine Howard, who channels Ariana Grande or Britney Spears in ‘All You Wanna Do,’ a litany of falling in love with a series of men who just want to use or abuse her that morphs powerfully from light-hearted acceptance to moral outrage. The second wife to be executed, she’s barely remembered

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

A painting of the real Katherine Howard (c. 1523-1542) by Hans Holbein the Younger.

compared to Anne Boleyn.”

Before the “Six” previews started on Broadway Feb. 13, 2020, Pauly had performed in “Six” productions over 100 times, in Chicago; Edmonton, Canada, and St. Paul, Minn.

“I would say our previews that we did in New York last year were the absolute craziest,” she said recently. “That was when the first week of previews when we had the actual stage door out in the street — that was the first moment that I had of like, oh my God, this is Broadway. This is wild. Just like people overflowing onto the street, it’s just madness.”

“Six” finished in the Twin Cities Dec. 23, 2019 and Pauly moved to New York City by late January 2020, into an apartment on Roosevelt Island. She had never lived in New York before.

“I always said I wouldn’t move to New York City unless I booked a show that took me there just

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

Her “All You Wanna Do” video (which has over 400,000 views) was her 100th “Song a Day” on YouTube. To request a song, find Pauly on Instagram @sampauly.

‘cause it’s so expensive, and then I left and kept paying for it,” she said.

Even since the Broadway shutdown, she’s kept paying rent on the apartment.

“I didn’t want to lose it because I love my apartment and I just got there and I really didn’t want to have to move everything out – to move it across the country and then have to move it back across the country,” Pauly said. “I was just not into that.”

They did about three weeks rehearsal in New York at 42 Studios before moving into Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre (named for the famed New York Times critic).

“When I when I walked in, you have to you come in this side stage door and you have to walk across the stage to get to the side that the dressing rooms are on,” Pauly recalled. “And I think because up until then we had been in so many different theaters, I kind of walked onto the stage and looked at the house and I was like, oh this kind of reminds me of the theater like, that wasn’t the moment that I was like, oh my God.

“The moment that I had the ‘oh my God, we’re here moment’ was when I walked into my dressing room that I share with Andrea Macaset, who is Anne Boleyn and Brittany Mack, who plays Anna of Cleves. I walked into the dressing room and they were already in there and our costumes were hanging up and we all like fell to the floor and started crying, like I don’t know why. It was that moment; it wasn’t when I looked at the stage. It was when I got into the dressing room with the two of them and we were just so excited.”

“It was kind of like seeing all of our stuff set up and seeing our names at the dressing stations. I don’t know what it was, but one of us started crying,” Pauly said.

From PV, La Crosse to Chicago, London, and Broadway       

A 2008 graduate of Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis. As a Viterbo student, Pauly developed confidence in her skills, and a couple things about her stood out to Nikki Balsamo ’15, a former Viterbo faculty member who taught dance, according to a 2020 feature at viterbo.edu.

“One thing was her amazing voice. She opened up her mouth to sing and I thought, ‘What is happening?,’” recalled Balsamo, who owns La

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

Pauly played the title role in “Evita” in a 2019 London production.

Crosse Dance Centre and is still an adjunct faculty member at Viterbo.

Pauly also was a diligent worker, always on top of everything, but despite her strong commitment to hard work, Balsamo said, she was fun to be around.

“Rehearsal was going to be better if Sam was there. She was just great to work with,” Balsamo said. “Personality is so important, and she was always so open to learning and growing, but also contributing ideas as well.”

The university story said Pauly has fond memories of ­Balsamo from her Viterbo days. “Nikki was all about incorporating love and acceptance into her lessons, and she truly lived by those ideals,” Pauly said. “She became a very close friend who I could always turn to.”

Pauly’s voice teacher at Viterbo, Karla Hughes, also left a positive impression. “Karla always believed in me and always had my back,” Pauly said. “She fully supported everything I wanted to try and every choice I made.”

At Viterbo, Pauly learned a lot of lessons that helped her on her way, but her biggest takeaways from college days were the bonds she formed with people. “Some of the best people in my life are people I met at Viterbo, friends that I see regularly in Chicago, people I look up to and

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

A scene from Circa ’21’s production of the musical “Legally Blonde” in 2012.

admire,” she said.

Pauly played the lead in Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse’s “Legally Blonde” in 2012, in Rock Island. In addition to wowing audiences, she impressed Circa director Jim Hesselman.

“Not only in talent but professionalism. It was apparent she was incredibly consistent, prepared, thinking about the future, and getting the most out of this particular part,” he said in a 2019 Dispatch/Argus feature. “She was easy to work with in a difficult role.”

“It’s persistence, professionalism, knowing what you want,” Hesselman said. “The theater world is small enough, reputation is all. I know she has the talent, the guts, and the intelligence to weather all of that.”

Pauly said in 2019 that she heard about “Six” in late 2018 from friends in London who told her it would be making its U.S. debut at Chicago’s Navy Pier, with Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Early in 2019, Pauly had booked another show in Chicago, and then got called in for “Six.”

“I said ‘no’ three times because I didn’t want to break a contract I already had, and then finally one night the music director of ‘Six’ called me after they’d already had auditions and told me I needed to at least make a tape to show the creative team,” she recalled. “So I made a tape at

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

Pauly dyed her hair blonde to play Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” for Circa ’21.

10:30 that night and got sent to final callbacks a couple of weeks after that. I got an offer to play Katherine Howard the next day.”

The Viterbo piece said it’s unheard of for a musical to open “out of town” and move to Broadway with the entire original cast intact, but it made sense with “Six” because of how well all the performers mesh. “As soon as we opened in Chicago, I think we all knew this was going to be something big,” Pauly said.

For awhile in the summer of 2019, Pauly actually dropped out of the “Six” cast to take advantage of an amazing opportunity to play the title role in “Evita,” staged at the Open Air Theatre in a gorgeous park in London working with director Jamie Lloyd.

“He brought out something in me I didn’t know I had, a confidence and power I had never known how to access,” Pauly said in the Viterbo story.

Her successful run in the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical “Evita” was performed at London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

A review at standard.co.uk praised her performance – “The production’s beating heart is American actress Samantha Pauly, who possesses a beguiling blend of butter-wouldn’t-melt charm and sensual guile, a pristine voice with a steel edge, and more than a touch of star quality.”

It was Pauly’s fourth version of the show (which includes the hit “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”), her third as the mesmerizing, domineering First Lady of Argentina, who died at age 33 of cancer in 1952.

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Pauly’s first “Evita” was in 2015, the year after she moved to Chicago, playing the mistress, who sings “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.” In 2016, she got to play Eva at The Marriott Theatre in Chicago, and then in 2018 at Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Conn.

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

The “Six” cast performing during Broadway previews in early 2020.

“I’ve always loved this show; the score is unbelievable,” she said in 2019. “I guess I keep coming back to the show because I truly enjoy performing it. It’s not an easy sing — I personally believe it’s one of the most difficult scores in musical theatre history, so I take great pride in being able to say I can do it.”

The most recent revival in London was “a completely different and new take on the show. Unlike anything, anyone has ever seen, and that’s what specifically drew me to that one,” Pauly said. “I loved Jamie Lloyd’s new production because it was very raw, edgy, dark and dirty. I had no costume changes, no wig, barely any makeup.

“We focused on the story and her relationships. It made Eva very human and accessible to audiences — someone that they could watch and say, ‘I’ve felt that before,’ or ‘I’ve gone through that pain before,’ ” she said. “Her story was not a happy one — her life ended too soon — and I think we were really able to capture her insecurities and fears.”

Embodying an abused teenager

Katherine Howard – whose life obviously also ended far too soon — was Henry VIII’s fifth wife, and in the show, her character is very youthful and fun (belying her real-life circumstances), Pauly said, noting her fashion style and song are based on Ariana Grande (the now 27-year-old superstar). Katherine was suspected of adultery, and the king had her beheaded in the Tower of London.

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

Pauly dyed her hair neon pink to play a teenage Katherine Howard in “Six.”

She married Henry VIII when she was about 17 and he was 49.

“Each Queen is kind of based on a pop star — we’ve got like Beyonce, we’ve got Miley Cyrus, we’ve got a Rihanna,” Pauly said recently. “I’m more of like the Ariana Grande type character. We’ve got an Alicia Keys, an Adele. So it’s very apparent when you listen to the music, who is kind of based off of what pop star, but the way that it’s written is also very often, it’s kind of like ‘Hamilton,’ in that sense that it’s a modern retelling that people hear contemporary pop music.”

“So I think that’s why it’s easier for people to connect, because it’s like attending a concert with some dialogue in there,” she said. “The best way I can describe it is about 80 minutes of non-stop pop.”

Howard suffered sexual abuse from the time she was about 12 up until she died at 18 or 19 (her birth year is not exactly known), beheaded on Feb. 13, 1542.

“No one knows her exact birthday, which is sad,” Pauly said. “But at the time she was seen as being very promiscuous and unfaithful. I know that wasn’t the case. The actual story is that she was abused and taken advantage of by older men. Henry married her when she was 17 and he was in his late 40s and then word of her history with other men got back to him.

“At the time, it was seen as infidelity, not what it was, which was that she was raped,” she said. “When I tell people about the show and which queen I’m playing, I still get a lot of people that say, oh, she was kind of the slutty one or she was a promiscuous one, right? And I say no, she was a child that suffered for a very long time. And so now I have been given the opportunity to tell a story for what it actually was and my song kind of breaks down into four parts that that tells you the sad trajectory of her life.”

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

A scene from Pauly’s 2019 production of “Evita” at Regent’s Park in London.

The “Six” website says: From her arrest on November 8, 1541 until her execution three months later, Katherine stayed under house arrest at Syon House; in late January of 1542, an act was passed in Parliament that rendered it treason for a woman to become the king’s wife without “plain declaration before of her unchaste life,” meaning Henry could have her killed.

An article on Howard (“Vixen or victim?”) at thehistorypress.co.uk says: “It’s time to acknowledge that Katherine was a multitude of shades of grey as all people are; neither innocent maiden nor lusty whore. She was a woman who was aware of her own sexuality, and how to use it, years before a woman in charge of her own sexual pleasure was deemed acceptable by society.”

“She was a woman who lacked a proper education and upbringing befitting her station who was then expected to act like the four queens who came before her. She was a young girl who made mistakes, and yet met her grisly end with grace and courage, paying the ultimate price for a crime that there is no definitive proof she ever committed.”

Despite the tragedies that met the half-dozen queens, “Six” remains a defiantly upbeat, empowering show, due to the way writers Lucy Moss (now age 27) and Toby Marlow (26) framed it.

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“Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow have written the show so well, in a way that tells the story honestly and gives people a chance to say, this was happening back then but it’s also happening now — that should change, shouldn’t it?” Pauly said.

“We address all of these issues. The show is a lot of fun, but it’s also a show where people will laugh, they will sing along, but they will also cry,” she said. “We showcase all of the intricacies of these women’s lives, but just the way they’ve written it is so incredibly smart — where you

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

A photo of the “Six” Broadway cast for a February 2020 Vogue magazine feature.

can have this moment of like, you’re full-on weeping, watching it from the audience and then we move on. The way it’s written, is just really incredible.”

The cast was photographed and quoted for a February 2020 Vogue feature on the show’s young authors.

“Improbable as it sounds, the musical is a riotous explosion of wit that speaks strongly and vibrantly to today,” the magazine piece said, noting the idea originated from Moss and Marlow’s sense that there simply aren’t enough substantive roles for women.

“We had loads of women and non-binary friends who never got the good parts,” Moss told Vogue. “Women have emotional ballads; the guys have big character songs,” Marlow added.

“The musical was influenced by the same cultural conversations that shaped the #MeToo movement, but the darkness of contemporary gender politics is lightly applied,” the story said. “Turns out some guys just employ women to get them into their private chambers,” says Katherine Howard at one point in the show. “It was a different time back then.”

Pauly is quoted in Vogue recalling her audition callback, to sing Katherine’s “All You Wanna Do,” a poignant but punchy record of a young girl’s abuse at the hands of powerful men.

“They wanted to see my best Beyoncé/Ariana Grande version,” Pauly says in the Vogue piece. “So Toby handed me an empty water bottle to be my microphone, and they asked me to sing the song like I was in a giant stadium. When I was done, they were cheering and clapping. That’s not done in theater auditions. Ever.”

Another tragedy of Broadway closing

Compared to previous productions of “Six,” the Broadway version is just super intensified, including the four-person on-stage band, Pauly said recently.

“It was kind of like they took the dial and just turned it up by 100%,” she said. “It was the costumes; they added a huge back wall behind the band that usually isn’t there. That’s all light bulbs — there’s just more light, the sound mixing is better.

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

All of the original “Six” cast will return when the musical returns to Broadway Sept. 17, 2021 in previews.

“They’ve rewritten a couple things, musically — nothing drastic, they just kind of, like I said, amped everything up a little bit,” Pauly said. “The choreography got tweaked to just be bigger. Everything’s just kind of amplified — the show was great before, but I think with all of that combined we just now really feel like rock stars.”

The six actresses and their three understudies formed a strong “girl power” bond, personally and professionally, after two years together.

“We are also incredibly close. I think from day one, when we all first met each other in Chicago, I think we were all so excited to be there,” Pauly said. “And we all already knew how special the show was and how special it was going to be. We all immediately knew that we had to get along and support each other and be there for each other. Otherwise, the show wasn’t going to work.

“And I think that’s part of the reason that that our cast is so special to begin with — what you see on stage is how we are with each other in real life,” she said. “I have a sister. I have one and I tell people, I’m like, the rest of the other eight of these women are the other sisters that I just never had growing up. I can call any of them for anything, any time of day and I learn so much from them all the time.”

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

Pauly (center) performing in “Six” at Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Pauly’s real sister, Regina, is two years younger and is a New York City-based songwriter.

Samantha’s husband Matt (a certified public accountant) saw a Broadway preview, and the rest of her family saw “Six” in Chicago. They all had tickets (her parents, sister, husband and in-laws) for the Broadway opening that got canceled. All preview performances were sold out, Pauly said. The 1,069-seat theater was previously home to the Sara Bareilles hit musical, “Waitress.”

The Broadway community was nervous about closing since the NBA decided to cancel its games starting March 11, 2020, after a Utah Jazz center tested positive for Covid.

“I remember the NBA shutting down, and that’s when all of us feel like, this is serious,” Pauly said. “This is like, where we feel like maybe we’re next. I was in a Lyft going back to my apartment to shower and grab my stuff for the night, and the Playbill article came out that said, Broadway would be shutting down on March 13th by 5 p.m. And in my mind, I was like, we’ll at least open tonight and have the party.”

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By 4 p.m. that day, she heard from one of her agents who said the show was canceled March 12.

“Some of the girls were already at the theater when we got the notice, so I didn’t even get to see anybody that day. So you know, the night before, the Wednesday night show was our last show together for a while and we had no idea — which is sad when I think back on it. That I

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

A promotional ad for “Six The Musical” on Broadway.

wish I would have enjoyed that last one. I was so stressed about the next day that I felt like I didn’t enjoy that last show that we were able to do.”

By March 12, 2020, just 40 people in the U.S. had died from Covid. As of May 14, 2021, nearly 584,000 Americans have died from the virus.

Originally, Broadway was just supposed to be shut down for a month, and then by mid-April 2020, they decided to be shut down through September 2020, Pauly said. By late April, she rented a car and moved back to Chicago.

“I figured I would spend the summer in Chicago, and then that got pushed out to January of 2021. And then I think in October is when it got pushed out to May 31st, and that’s when I started to think, I have no idea when this will end. In October of this last year is when I started to

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

A promo photo of the 2019 Chicago Shakespeare cast of “Six,” featuring Samantha Pauly (second from right).

get really discouraged.

“It just kept getting pushed out,” she said. “All the way out to the end of May is when, to me that was such a drastic jump, they were first kind of like moving in smaller increments that that five months off extension really put me in a bad spot.”

In addition to making her Broadway debut, Pauly was especially excited to debut a new show.

“Everybody was all so thrilled — like I said before, just to be kept together and all of us were going to do the show together. I was just particularly excited because never did I ever think that I would get to originate a principal role in a brand new Broadway show,” she said.

“Nothing like that was ever on my mind. So, I kind of had to talk with myself, like, okay Samantha, you will have to be okay with the fact that you’ll probably never go to the Tonys and you might never be on Broadway,” Pauly said.

“Like you have to temper your expectations for what your life might be. So we’re all just so thrilled to be there and it sucks, it’s been tough on theater” she said. “During all of this, shows that people thought would come back, have gotten their closing notices and won’t be coming back to Broadway. So we’re just happy that that we finally have a date that we will be able to come back.”

Working remotely by teaching

Since spring 2020, Pauly has been offering private vocal coaching via Zoom, after she was approached by the company Broadway Plus.

“I had done absolutely zero teaching. So, when this company first reached out to me, I kind of responded to them like, no, you know I’m not a voice teacher, I don’t play the piano, I don’t do any of that,” she said. “When things weren’t locked down, they primarily facilitate in-person master classes with Broadway people and stuff like that. They were like, no, no, you don’t need to know how to play the piano, it’s all going to be virtual.

“Students have to bring their own tracks from like YouTube or wherever. So, you just kind of coach them about vocal technique in acting through the song,” Pauly said. “At that point, I had no idea what I was going to do for money during any of this lockdown. So for the first month or so, it was definitely a learning process for me but now I just feel like an old pro.

Her dozen students (meeting usually once a week) range in age from 9 through adults in their 30s.

“It’s not only for kids that are theater people. It’s really anybody that wants to take a voice lesson,” Pauly said. “But Broadway Plus also offers like meet-and-greets with Broadway people, where people can book like 30 minutes and we just kind of hang out and they can ask questions and they do that. They do like video shout-outs.

“I have enough of them every week, every month, that I have been able to support myself through all of this. So I’ve been very lucky,” she said.

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Her students are a mix of people who want to pursue theater as a career, to just those who enjoy it as a hobby. They provide their own accompaniment, typically a karaoke track from YouTube.

“What’s also been great is that now is the time for a lot of the public high school age kids, they’re kind of getting ready for college auditions,” Pauly said. “Or even kids that just graduated college or getting ready for auditions for agents, we do a lot of that stuff, too. But I’ve had my fair share of people that aren’t really involved in the arts, that they just really enjoy singing. They just want to do voice lessons.

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

Samantha Pauly is a 31-year-old Bettendorf native and 2008 grad of Pleasant Valley High School.

Pauly also has students on Zoom from around the world.

“I have lessons with people in the UK and Japan and Poland and Australia — all over the place. Which is why I get my time zones confused all the time,” she said.

“I get to meet a lot of people that I otherwise might have never met before or gotten to hear sing before. But what I also really love is that with a lot of these students, especially the ones that I see regularly, since we’ve announced when the show will be coming back, have already gotten their tickets,” Pauly said.

“I’m really looking forward to now getting to see these people in person in real life after only seeing them through the computer for a solid year,” she said. “So that’s been that’s been really nice too — there are a lot of students that in the last couple of weeks have been like one year ago today, we had our first lesson together. It’s just wild that a year has gone by so fast.”

Pauly’s voice students knew her background and she has not always tried to put on a happy face for them.

“I have always been very transparent with students and just even on social media with mental health struggles,” she said. “I think that’s been especially important during this last year, living through something so unprecedented, there’s no right way for anybody to deal with it.”

“Through the loss that everybody has gone through and the suffering of hard times and it’s just, it’s been a struggle for everybody,” Pauly said. “So, I’ve always tried to be very transparent, like you’re having a bad day. It’s okay to have a bad day. If you’re feeling sad, it’s okay to be sad.”

“I’m also the kind of person that if someone says, how are you? I’ll say, you know, I’m not that great. I’m worried about this, ‘cause I think that’s important for people to not hide how they’re feeling amidst all that,” she said. “So, I’m always very open and honest with my students, telling them if I’m having a good day or a bad day, and I always tell them that they are welcome to share that with me if they’re having a particularly bad day and they feel like they won’t be able to focus in a lesson.

“Then I say, okay then let’s why don’t we reschedule for a time when when we both feel better, because I want all of these students to succeed and feel like they’re getting something out of our time together. So we have good days and bad days and I think especially for younger students, it’s important for them to know that you don’t always have to fight through it and pretend like everything’s okay, if it’s not. So we just said, you know, we’re just open and honest with each other about how we’re feeling. And I think it’s helpful for them.”

Pauly said since she’s been back in Chicago, she and her husband went into “hermit mode — like we have not gone anywhere from home. So we’ve done our best to really stay safe because my husband’s also a high-risk individual,” she said.

Looking forward to coming back

Since Broadway shows are so expensive to produce, the producers have not wanted to reopen until they can expect pretty full houses, and it’s not a big concern that the public will return en masse – especially as more people are vaccinated, Pauly said.

“It doesn’t seem like it is. You know when the 14th is the magical day, that theaters can be at 100 percent capacity,” she said of this September. “I know that for our first three previews, the 17th, 18th and 19th, those are already completely sold out and I know that I’ve looked at Ticketmaster because I was curious about audience members get on their end when they’re purchasing a ticket.

More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway

Samantha Pauly is a 31-year-old Bettendorf native and 2008 grad of Pleasant Valley High School.

“There won’t be paper tickets. Everything will be digital and I think there’ll be temperature checks. I’m not sure if there will be playbills,” Pauly said of theater programs. “I assume they’re still would be there, just might not be someone handing them out.”

Pauly expects to be back in New York in early July and start rehearsing in August, continuing to do vocal coaching virtually. Her husband has been working remotely from home during the entire pandemic.

“I think the biggest thing I’ve missed is probably seeing the audience’s reaction to the show,” she said of “Six.” “There’s so many lights that the audience is very illuminated for most of the show, we can see up into the balcony. I don’t think people realize that when they see the show, but my absolute favorite thing is just the opening number of the show, when all of the lights come up and the first thing we sing.

“Seeing the faces of people who are super fans, that think they know what to expect and they finally get to see the show in person – just seeing that first reaction from the audience just makes me so happy, it always makes me so happy every night,” Pauly said. “I love stage dooring after the show — unfortunately, that probably won’t be a thing right when we come back, just for everybody’s safety.

“And just being with the other girls every day, I miss them a lot,” she added.

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Pauly and her husband came back to Bettendorf recently to see her parents for Mother’s Day weekend, after having seen them at Christmas, and briefly last summer.

“It’s nice to see them now, that we are fully vaccinated,” she said of this month.

Since “Six” is truly an ensemble show, with no leading actress, it’s unknown what category the women could be nominated in for the 2022 Tony Awards.

“We’re hoping 2022 will be our in-person Tony moment,” Pauly said. “I know that when the show got nominated for the Olivier Awards in the UK, the girls got nominated collectively together, as a group, I think for best supporting. I don’t know if the Tonys would do something like that; it would be great if they did. We’re not sure – we talk about that often, but we don’t know.”

For the 2019 Laurence Olivier Awards, “Six” (in a different London cast) received five nominations – but it lost Best New Musical to “Come From Away” and the six in Best Supporting Actress in a Musical lost out to Patti LuPone as Joanne in “Company.”

To see Pauly discuss and perform “All You Wanna Do” from home last summer, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-mzg73YL1c. For more information on the show, visit https://sixonbroadway.com/.

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More Than a Year After Shutdown, Pleasant Valley Alum Looks Forward to Being Back on Broadway
Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.