Samantha Pauly

In a new musical adaptation of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic socialite/golfer Jordan Baker gets her time in the Broadway spotlight. From a heightened romantic arc to a showstopping musical number, Jordan’s leap from the page to the stage is perhaps one of the most notable changes the musical makes in bringing the classic novel to life. Actress Samantha Pauly, who plays Jordan in the production (now open at the Broadway Theatre), owned the opportunity to make the character her own. “I’ve been given the privilege of bringing a lot of myself to her,” she says of the character. “It’s been really thrilling to discover what we already know about her, but also what I identify with in her as a character.”

Jordan helps usher The Great Gatsby’s narrator, and her sometimes-boyfriend, Nick Carraway into the rollicking parties of 1920’s New York City. What is perhaps the character’s most famous quote—”I like large parties. They’re so intimate”—makes it into the musical adaptation verbatim, but the show takes liberties in heightening Jordan’s relationships with Nick (Noah Ricketts) and her best friend, Daisy Buchanan (Eva Noblezada). The show’s increased focus on its characters’ relationships, set amidst shimmering sets, beaded costumes, and swinging dance numbers, brings new weight to Jordan’s words.

“We have a lot of things in the show that are directly pulled word for word,” Pauly explains. With the expanded role for Jordan, however, Pauly has had the opportunity to take the character to new places where previous Gatsby adaptations have not ventured. “I try not to let anyone else’s interpretation influence how I approached the show and the character,” she remarks.

Pauly leads an extravagant number called “New Money,” a six-and-a-half minute showstopper that encapsulates the era’s hunger for glamor and wealth. Having previously originated the role of Katherine Howard in SIX on Broadway and played the titular role of Evita in London, Pauly is well-equipped for the demands of her Gatsby role.  

“For SIX, that song was eight and a half minutes long, singing and dancing nonstop. My first song in The Great Gatsby is six and a half minutes long, singing, dancing,” she points out. “Doing Evita on the West End, that was a show where I never left the stage. It’s been a combination of accessing the stamina that I know that I have to make it through a show this big, but also pulling from those two other roles in particular, the amount of stage presence and confidence they require.”

With its eye-popping sets and memorable songs, Gatsby is a testament to the story’s ability to fascinate and wow audiences, nearly a century after its initial publication. “I think one of the biggest surprises in The Great Gatsby in general is how easy it is to still connect with these characters today,” Pauly says. “Come in expecting a truly over the top dazzling spectacle to watch, but stay for the story that contains so many different characters that you will be able to identify with on multiple levels.”

The Great Gatsby is on Broadway now..

Interview Juliana Ogarrio
Photography Josh Drake

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