Talented actor Samantha Massell is starring as Rosalind Franklin in the first Bay Street Theater Mainstage show of 2023, the musical “Double Helix.” The world premiere of “Double Helix” took place on May 30th at the Bay Street stage in Sag Harbor. The musical centers around Rosalind Franklin’s groundbreaking story and her key role in the race to discover the structure of DNA.
When asked what excites her most about portraying Rosalind Franklin, the New York City-born and raised Massel said, “What excites me the most about this role is being able to bring Rosalind Franklin’s untold story to life and honor her.” Samantha Massell sees a lot of similarities between Franklin’s personality and her own, which makes the role even more exciting for her.
Massel further explained that in the show, Rosalind Franklin goes through an extraordinary journey, and she is thrilled to share this story with audiences. She is also excited about the challenge of playing such a big role, the actual leading driving role in a musical. Massel mentioned that she rarely leaves the stage and has a lot of singing to do, but she loves the role of Rosalind Franklin.
Massel commended Madeline Myers, the writer and composer of “Double Helix,” for creating an extraordinary character that she feels lucky to portray. She appreciates that the show presents Rosalind Franklin as a complex, flawed, and real human being rather than portraying her as a saint.
Regarding the 1950s setting of the show, Massel pointed out that unfortunately, misogyny is still a relevant topic today. She mentioned that Rosalind Franklin was not a feminist but simply wanted to work, and the attitudes women face today are not all that different from what Franklin experienced. Massel also highlighted the show’s coverage of antisemitism, which she believes is still a highly relevant issue.
Getting the role of Rosalind Franklin was a unique process for Massel. She never auditioned for it. She had developed a working relationship with Madeline Myers and coincidentally ended up on a hiking trip with her in the Faroe Islands. During the trip, Myers mentioned that she was working on a new project with a leading character that she believed Massel would be perfect for. Years later, the show opens on May 30th with Massel as Rosalind Franklin.
Massel expressed her admiration for Bay Street Artistic Director and director of “Double Helix,” Scott Schwartz, and Madeline Myers. She considers them family and appreciates their warm and intuitive approach to directing. Massel praised the cast, noting that they are extraordinary and deliver the essence of the piece. She also mentioned the joy of building new bonds with some of the actors she hadn’t worked with before.
According to Massel, the timing of the show is significant as the world is emerging from a period where science played a crucial role during the international pandemic. She believes that a musical about science telling the truth couldn’t be more well-timed.
The show will run from May 30th to June 8th. For ticket information, visit Baystreet.org.