Susan Corzatte, Actress

Susan Corzatte

On March 21, 1931 in Buffalo, New York, Lillian and Herbert Heinrich welcomed their daughter Susan into the world. The family spent Susan’s early years in East Aurora, a small village in western New York. Her mother performed occasionally on stage, and Susan took an early interest in the theater.

Susan began her collegiate education at the University of Rochester, but left when the school cancelled the production of “Pygmalion” with her playing Eliza Doolittle, because school rules did not allow a freshman to perform a lead role.  She then transferred to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. When she graduated, she followed a professor’s advice and joined the apprentice program of the Cleveland Playhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. She identified herself in her performances as Susan Ludlow.

At Cleveland Playhouse in 1955 she met Clayton Corzatte (3/1927–4/2013), as they both appeared in “The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker.”  Susan and Clayton – AKA “Clay” — married in 1957, and soon moved to New York City.

In the 1960s, the Corzattes performed with New York’s APA Repertory Company, a project of the Association of Producing Artists.  The troupe staged its first productions “way way off Broadway,” and slowly moved up.

When APA folded in 1969, the Corzatte family moved to Seattle, where they rented a house on the South-facing slope of Queen Anne with a fine view of the city.

They then moved to Ashland, where they lived and worked for about three years.  At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Susan played The Nurse in “Romeo and Juliet,” Mistress Quickly in “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and Audrey in “This Day & Age.”

Susan and Clayton Corzatte at home with baby

From Ashland, the family – now including son Christopher and daughter Felicity Katherine – moved back to Seattle, where they purchased a westward-facing home on Queen Anne Hill, overlooking Puget Sound.

Susan  first performed for Seattle audiences as Peter Pan at Seattle Junior Theatre.  In the ensuing years she has played at ACT – in its original location at 100 West Roy and later downtown – and at Arts West, Intiman, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Village Theatre (Issaquah).

She and Clay performed together and separately.  Her roles have included Ethel Thayer in “On Golden Pond,” “A” in “Three Tall Women,” Mrs. Tarleton in “Misalliance,” Rummy Mitchens in “Major Barbara,” Mrs. Malaprop in “The Rivals,” Ann in “The Cocktail Hour,” Sheila and Grace in “A Day In The Death of Joe Egg,” Delia in “Bedroom Farce,” Helga in “Deathtrap,” and Audrey in “End of the World.”

Susan and Clayton Corzatte on stage

Both Susan and Clay taught for more than a dozen years at Cornish College of the Arts, which awarded them both honorary Doctorates in 2009.

In her teaching role, Susan met Dr. Hugh James Lurie (1935-2014) and took part in his work training psychiatrists by performing disturbing moments with and for his students. Dr. Lurie documented her work in a 1973 paper “The Actress as a Mental Health Teacher.”

Theatre Puget Sound honored Clayton and Susan with the Gregory Falls Sustained Achievement Award in 2000, recognizing their memorable pairing in local productions of “The Gin Game” and “On Golden Pond.”