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 made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival of Wonderful Town and performed the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera in Hamburg, Germany with the Neue Flora Theater. 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. This season, Susan performs Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady with the Utah Symphony Orchestra opposite Peter Scolari as Professor Henry Higgins and she is recording "Singing," a song cycle by Gerald Ginsburg, based on the poetry of Langston Hughes in collaboration with pianist Paul Lincoln. She made her Off-Off Broadway debut in The Shrill Collective’s world premiere of Megan Bussiere’s A Period Piece as Sam; the play is a finalist for the 2019 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference Prize.
Other theatrical career highlights include Marian in The Music Man; Kate/Lilli in Kiss Me Kate; Desdemona in Othello; Fiona in Brigadoon; 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. Susan has professional experience 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.
A champion of new works, Susan is the centerpiece of the Bold New Works series in Virginia, an initiative to create five world-premiere musicals; her performance 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. 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 and she co-founded DC’s contemporary opera company UrbanArias in 2009.
In a concert setting, 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. She also has the esteemed honor of appearing in the Encores! Series at New York City Center eleven times. Additionally, she has performed 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.
Susan’s 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.
Susan earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music. She 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.