Jay town employee shines as theater star

AU SABLE FORKS Many residents of the town of Jay are familiar with Susan Richards as the clerk to the supervisor but she plays a different role after hours. Richards, a singer, has become heavily involved with a couple of local theater groups. Currently shes preparing for her role as Bloody Mary in South Pacific, which is being jointly presented by the SUNY Plattsburgh Music Department and Essex Theatre Company. Its a fun part Im kind of an anti-traditional Bloody Mary, said Richards. As Bloody Mary, she will sing Bali Hai, one of the shows most notable numbers. On her wall at work, theres small images that she says serve as motivation an article about the upcoming show along with a picture of the actress Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary. Richards, a graduate of AuSable Valley Central School, was a notable high school performer in the jazz choir. At 15, she auditioned for Star Search. Shes been singing her whole life, but after graduating spent several years pursuing a business degree. I hadnt been singing for a while, said Richards. It wasnt until she was an adult that she became interested in musicals. In 2003, she began performing with the Lake Placid Center for the Arts and ETC. South Pacific marks her fourth performance with ETC. She explained that she enjoyed the different aspects of performance, ranging from acting and acting, to dressing up as a character. Ive always loved singing as a way to express yourself, said Richards. Balancing her work, interest in theater, and her family is sometimes a challenge. She had two children, Samuel, 6, and Sara, 1. Her husband, Steven, although not a big fan of the art form, has supported her. If he really likes a show, hell go more than once, said Richards. Richards is also involved the production of George M. Cohan, in his own words, which is the third collaboration between the Jay Entertainment and Music Society (JEMS) and Brooklyn Family Theatre. She is learning her role long distance, until the Brooklyn company arrives in the region in early June for a week of intensive rehearsals. The musical will perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 9 at Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Richards was critical of the art opportunities for area students. Growing up, she felt there wasnt enough chances to participate in theater in the region. She said that while thats improving with the formation of local theater groups and annual school plays, shed like there to be more opportunities for youth. Along with serving as supervisors clerk, she is the town of Jays budget officer. She enjoys her work, finding it challenging and rewarding but still finds herself drawn to the theater as a pastime. You dont get standing ovations from making copies, said Richards. South Pacific South Pacific, the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, will be presented on April 20-21 at 8 p.m. in the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, Hawkins Hall, SUNY Plattsburgh. The musical stars George and Leslie Hearn, both experienced Broadway performances. The performance is co-produced by SUNY Plattsburgh Music Department and Essex Theatre Company, and directed by Derrick Hopkins. For ticket information, call 564-2283.

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