WILLIAMSTOWN — The dynamic partnership of Samantha Williams and Daniel Rudin – Sammie and Dan – is heralding Williamstown’s 40th annual Holiday Walk weekend with a special performance for the Williamstown Theater Festival (WTF).
“Samantha Williams is a performer who I really admire,” said Jenny Gersten, WTF interim artistic director. “I approached Samantha about doing a concert at the Clark. She and her music director and pianist, Dan, happily agreed.”
Admiration is the word Rudin used to describe the core of the Sammie and Dan partnership.
“This really did emerge entirely out of friendship. That’s the uniquely beautiful thing about this,” he said. “It came from a genuine enjoyment of spending time together, laughing together, and mutual admiration.”
Williams and Rudin met on Broadway during the early stages of production for the show “Caroline, or Change.” It was Rudin’s first Broadway show and Williams’ second, following her Broadway debut in “Dear Evan Hansen.”
“I think our partnership naturally started to happen because we met in a work environment,” said Williams. “We met doing a Broadway show. He was doing the music and I was singing. We already had that vibe, and then we became friends. Because we had that, and we’d seen that in professional settings, we knew working together wouldn’t be an issue.”
Rudin was working as the music assistant, and Williams was a performer. Their closeness in age brought them naturally together, and Rudin remembered how, at that time, he was looking to find a meaningful, long-lasting friendship. They found it with each other; their similarities as people and artists drew them even closer.
“Sammie was the star of that room as far as I was concerned,” said Rudin. “Working with her was a dream come true for me.”
Throughout production, the COVID-19 pandemic, and afterward, their partnership and friendship blossomed.
“I feel like we speak the same musical language,” agreed Williams. “We talk about it all the time. Anytime we get together to jam, get together, or sing, there’s just something in the air. It just feels right. We flow really well together. I’m not afraid to try things with him. We are really honest with each other. There’s no one else musically who I vibe with as well as him.”
Williams appeared with WTF over the summer and was featured in the WTF Cabaret. She compared performing at the summertime festival to being at “summer camp.”
“I’m super excited to come again and bring Dan with me, and I’m excited to share it with everyone that I met over the summer, singing even more songs with my own curated set,” said Williams.
The show on Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. will feature jazz, holiday songs, exciting twists on beloved classics with new arrangements, and a sprinkling of stories about their friendship. Rudin described the uplifting convivial atmosphere as a reflection of the “relaxed and easy camaraderie between the two of us that blends seamlessly into soulful music-making.”
“I’m most looking forward to doing lots of new material that we haven’t done together before,” said Rudin. “It’ll be so exciting to shape some new interpretations and arrangements together. Sammie is such a unique and inspiring voice.”
“The Clark has a theme this year, which is light,” explained Gersten. “The idea of how music and songs, especially holiday songs, bring people together and open up our neural pathways to experience light and joy is real. I love that we can be part of that as a part of the 40th anniversary holiday walk celebration.”
“With everything going on in the world, people can really take a deep breath at this show and allow it to be a moment for connection during a time of lots of disconnection,” said Williams. “It’s all about light, positivity, joy, and finding it no matter what is going on.”