The Germantown Academy Arts Center stage certainly won’t be the same after K. Richardson takes her final bow at the end of the 2023-24 school year. While she hasn’t spent the past 20 years at GA for awards or applause, Richardson does find joy having taken hundreds of students from merely actors to true performers with her artistic creativity and directorial leadership.
“In nearly three decades of work in independent schools, I have seen MANY high school theatrical productions at many schools; without a doubt, all of my top 10 have been directed by the gifted K. Richardson,” said Head of School Rich Schellhas 1760. “K. is brilliant at casting, at finding just the right show for the kids fortunate enough to work with her, at pushing the envelope so that the stage becomes an outstanding classroom and learning experience, and at challenging her audiences to reconsider what high school theater can be and can mean for the students and the audience. From the biggest musical production numbers to the most intimate play dialogues, K. brings out the best in her actors and leads the spectators on unforgettable journeys. It remains abundantly clear why her shows have won so many accolades and why so many Belfry alums once under her tutelage have gone on to lead lives on and behind the stage, both in college and professionally. A huge GA standing ovation has been earned by K. Richardson!”
In the beginning… Richardson was a summer Belfry Theater Camp assistant under the late Vince Campbell for two summers and took over for the esteemed theater director as Germantown Academy’s Upper School Theater teacher in 2002. “I hope I’ve done him proud,” Richardson says. Her talent shone brightly, having been awarded GA’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009 and the Excellence in Extracurriculars Award in 2018. Also in 2009, Richardson led the Belfry theater crew to a Best of Philly High School Theater Award after an amazing performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Through the years, GA’s amazing casts and crews have garnered more than 80 CAPPIES Award nominations, winning 25+ awards, including three Best Musical and one Best Play.
The stage beckoned… Richardson has loved being able to offer students a space where they were always welcome to be their whole authentic selves, because that is exactly what she brought to the part. “I have been fortunate to work with an extraordinary collection of students through the years who loved the work and the community,” Richardson commented. “Some pursued careers in performance, others went on to be enthusiastic audience members. But most important, just good, whole people, who are true to themselves.”
From the wings… The list of memories is long and varied, and should be, considering the 40+ productions Richardson has shepherded from casting calls to curtain calls. But there are a few that are front and center like when she handed kids their first paycheck for being a counselor in the Summer Camp Belfry Theater program; seeing “breakthroughs” in class or rehearsal; faculty cameos; laughing in Improv class; every student who turned on their camera, dropped their guard, and brought their real pandemic self to connect on Zoom; texts from alums. “From Jim Fenerty calling me ‘Coach’ to production meetings at Marita’s to the football and wrestling teams dancing in 9 to 5, to seeing former students light up stages beyond GA, these moments were gifts that I can never repay,” she said.
The show must go on… While Richardson is delighted to be directing her son, Liam ’24, in their final productions together during the upcoming school year, she is already planning her next page of life. “Theater’s long been my vocation and houses my hobby,” Richardson said. “Now that I have a real estate license, we’ll see what happens when I reverse the two!”
The reviews are in, and while it will be difficult for K. Richardson to leave the nation’s oldest high school theater club behind, the world is her stage.
K. is Thankful For…
Every brave student who found their way to the acting studio.
What K. Will Miss Most…
Working with my students.
The Arts Center Bucket Brigade.
The many times *every* kid did their personal best in auditions.
Opening night when the lights come up and I get to just sit in the dark and watch the show.
Student hugs at Curtain call and the Graduation line.
Fail here, fail better.
I’m waiting for the silence out of which great art is made.
Is that on the conflict calendar?
You are enough.
Nothing to prove, something to share. (Stolen from Michelle Geosits ’11, who picked it up somewhere else)
An actor without a pencil is just a bum. (Vince Campbell)