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A bit of Broadway in Fort Salem

Broadway actor stars in theater's last summer production

"George M. Cohan Tonight!" is the last summer production for Fort Salem Theater in Washington County.

"George M. Cohan Tonight!" is the last summer production for Fort Salem Theater in Washington County. Submitted photo

— Fort Salem Theater might be in the middle of nowhere in Washington County, but it attracts Broadway actors on a regular basis. That caliber of acting, coupled with the quality productions it produces, is why Artistic Director Jay Kerr isn’t happy being “the Best Kept Secret in the Capital Region.”

“People don’t know we’re here. People in Salem don’t know we’re here and not for our lack of trying,” said Kerr. “Our goal is to have people see what we do. We want people to come find us.”

Being a hidden gem won’t stop Kerr from creating the best plays and musicals he can. The final presentation of summer will be “George M. Cohan Tonight!” starring Broadway actor Jim Raposa.

“Jim was in a show with us last year and we kept saying ‘What role would your like to play?’ and he said he’d love to do George M. Cohan, so we found this show,” said Kerr.

Raposa might not be a household name but he’s been part of some of the most famous musicals on Broadway, like “Cats” and “The Lion King.”

“Do your gig, do it well and take care of your body … getting that crowd’s response is just amazing,” said Raposa.

Raposa has been teaching in the performing arts department at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, VT since leaving Broadway, but he still has plenty of memories from his glory days.

“It’s really an amazing time because you go to 100 auditions and you may book one job and to then be able to work with some of the heavy hitters and create theater with them and love going to work every night and to entertain an audience and make an audience feel an emotional journey, it’s really cathartic,” said Raposa. “I miss that.”

Raposa covered six roles in “Cats,” including Mr. Mistoffelees and Skimbleshanks. In “Lion King” he was Timon and Zazu. He also did stints in TV and film, as well as working in regional theaters and the U.S. premiere of “Ragtime.”

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