Courtesy photoBack to the cabaret: Samantha Samuels

Courtesy photoBack to the cabaret: Samantha Samuels

Samantha Samuels lends a helping hand

Once a lauded interpreter of European and cabaret songs, Samantha Samuels — “Sam” to her friends — is making a rare stage appearance at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre Monday to support the “Help is on the Way for the Holidays” benefit concert.

Samuels performed for decades, touring the country and the world in clubs, concerts and stage productions like “Piaf, No Regrets” and “Nine.”

About seven years ago she shifted gears, moving from performer to producer. With her business partner Steven Shore, Samuels runs the sibilantly named Esses Productions. Together, they have been successfully booking talent like Melissa Manchester, Linda Purl and Franc D’Ambrosio into venues all around the East Bay.

“There’s a school of thought that says a performer performs forever and the joy that comes from that keeps them going,” says Samuels about retiring from onstage life. “My school of thought was that I felt I had accomplished a dream. Performing with major stars, wearing designer gowns, getting standing ovations — things a middle-class Jewish girl from Chicago would never imagine.”

“Like an athlete or a dancer, when you don’t exercise all the time your skill is not the sharpest, the cleanest, the best it can be,” she says. “I wanted to remember my career and who I was as a performer at the best that I was.”

The transition had its challenges. “No one stands up and applauds for the producer at the end of a show. I found that irritating at first,” she laughs.

The moment back in the spotlight is the 10th annual holiday concert benefiting the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation, an organization Samuels has supported in the past. She will be joined onstage by Mary Wilson, Sally Struthers, Paula West, Bonnie Franklin and a host of other entertainers under the direction of David Galligan.

“It boiled down to two things,” Samuels says about performing again. “First, this sweet little song with lyrics by Kenny Mazlow is something I did for this event several years ago and I thought it would be nice to relive that memory. So it’s not like they were asking me for an aria.

“The second, and much more important reason, is that there’s very little I would say no to if it helped in the fight against AIDS. I lost my first friend to AIDS and did my first fundraiser when I was three months pregnant with my son Ben. He’s 26 now. That there is still a need to do these kinds of events touches me deeply.”

IF YOU GO

Help Is on the Way for the Holidays X

Where: Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., San Francisco

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $40 to $100

Contact: (415) 273-1620, www.reaf.org

artsentertainmentRichmond/Ermet AIDS FoundationSamantha Samuels

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Parents and students line up socially distanced before the first day of in-person learning at Bret Harte Elementary School on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
‘It’s a beautiful sight’: The first students return to the classroom

San Francisco’s youngest public school students stepped into classrooms for in-person learning… Continue reading

File
Latest Breed nominee for Police Commission moves forward

Immigration attorney Jim Byrne clears Board of Supervisors committee

A rally at Golden Gate Park on Sunday April 11 drew a large crowd in support of calls to keep JFK Drive closed to traffic. (Emily Huston/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Hundreds rally for “JFK Thrive,” not JFK Drive

By Emily Huston More than two hundred gathered on a warm Sunday… Continue reading

San Francisco Giants pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (26) starts against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on April 11, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Giants finish sweep of Rockies behind DeSclafani’s scoreless outing

Even with fans back at Oracle Park, San Francisco Giants pitchers have… Continue reading

Kindergarten teacher Chris Johnson in his classroom at Bryant Elementary School ahead of the school’s reopening on Friday, April 9, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD students are going back to the classroom

After more than a year of distance learning, city schools begin reopening on Monday

Most Read