An accomplished and versatile actor and singer noted for her “soaring soprano voice” and “striking theatricality” (The New York Times), Susan Derry is at home in a wide range of roles. She debuted on Broadway in the Tony-winning revival of Wonderful Town and played the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera in Hamburg, Germany She garnered critical acclaim for her recent portrayal of Francesca Johnson in The Bridges of Madison County at Keegan Theatre in Washington DC; the Washington Post proclaimed ”the ace this staging is Susan Derry“ and Broadway World called it the role of her career.
Her theatrical career highlights include Marian in The Music Man; Kate/Lilli in Kiss Me Kate; Desdemona in Othello; Eliza in My Fair Lady; Fiona in Brigadoon; to name a few. Other favorites: Meg in Crimes of the Heart, Helen in Saturday Night; Agnes in I Do! I Do!; Betty Schaeffer in Sunset Boulevard; Betty in White Christmas, and Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest. She has an extensive background in opera as well, premiering the role of Olivia in Gary Glickmans’ adaptation of Twelfth Night with American Opera Projects and singing Jessica in the American premiere of Reynaldo Hahn’s The Merchant of Venice with Portland Opera, to name a few.
New works are a passion for Susan - she is the centerpiece of the Bold New Works series in Virginia, an initiative to create five world-premiere musicals; her work in the first piece, a new version of The Turn of the Screw, was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award. Since then, she has earned accolades as Mary Shelley in Monsters of the Villa Diodati; as a daughter struggling with her mother’s decline from Alzheimers in Kaleidoscope and as a hard-edged single mother in Witch, based on the #MeToo movement. All four works feature Susan prominently on the cast albums. The final work in the series, On Air, premieres this May. Susan has performed the works of such varied composers as Craig Baldwin, Ben Moore, Larry O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, Andrew Lippa, David Gilbert and Josh Rosenblum, among others, and she co-founded DC’s contemporary opera company UrbanArias in 2009.
Susan headlined as a guest soloist at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops on an evening of Frank Loesser’s music under the direction of Room Fisher and the late, great Skitch Henderson, and she has the disturbing honor of appearing in the Encores! Series at New York City Center eleven times. She has sung with the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall’s Community Sings series, the Lawton Symphony, the Palm Beach Orchestra, in Kennedy Center galas, Sondheim Award galas, and with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Leonard Bernstein's Mass conducted by Marin Alsop.
Her cabaret work includes two one-woman evenings: “It’s Got To Be Love,” about finding happiness among the high notes, and “Days and Dazed,” a look at how anything can happen in the busy middle of your life. She is currently recording "Singing," a song cycle by Gerald Ginsburg, an underusing NYC composer, based on the poetry of Langston Hughes in collaboration with pianist Paul Lincoln. And in February 2019 she returns to a favorite role, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, which she sings with the Utah Symphony Orchestra opposite Peter Scolari as Professor Henry Higgins.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music. She has served as an adjunct professor of voice at both American University and George Washington University and has a thriving private studio in Brooklyn where she lives with her husband and her #citydog Marlowe.