She's the music woman

ELIZABETHTOWN - For the past decade, one woman has been a cornerstone of music and theater in and around Elizabethtown.

Susan Hughes recently concluded yet another season directing the Elizabethtown Social Center's annual musical production; a thrilling performance of Lionel Bart's "Oliver!"

The show marks the 10th year Hughes has directed a Social Center production, and she shows little sign of stopping anytime soon.

"I just love doing it," she said. "It's what I do to get through the winter."

Each year, dozens of students and adults participate in the musical productions, rehearsing from January though March. Weekend performances at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central school attract more than 500 audience members each night.

"I think it's a real need in the community that the Social Center fills, because there's no drama club at the school," said Hughes.

After obtaining a degree in Music and Theater from Syracuse University, Hughes went on to audition professionally in Washington D.C. and New York City. When she moved to Elizabethtown in 1989, she continued to participate in community theater, including the Social Center's production of "Peter Pan" in 1999.

She took over for then director Robin Jacques in 2000 to direct "Cinderella," and has been in charge of a wide variety of productions ever since.

As director, she devotes hours of her time each week in between working as an executive assistant for the Adirondack Council. Hughes is heavily involved in every aspect of production from props and costumes to the design of the playbill.

"There's such a huge list of shows out there that I'd like to direct someday," she said, "but it's just a question of finding the right one for the right group of people."

Social Center Director Ken Fenimore said the musical acts are a great way for young people to practice important public speaking skills and improve self-esteem, and it provides an excellent after-school activity for kids whose talents lie elsewhere than sports.

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