In 2008 Charlie Crosses the Nation an opera in a Jazz idiom (music, libretto, orchestration), was performed by the New York City Opera as part of the VOX festival of new opera. A Thousand Words Come to Mind written with playwright, Michele Lowe was commissioned by Paulette Haupt and opened at The Zipper Theatre starring Tony Nominee, Barbara Walsh. A Star Across the Ocean, a work for 4 voices and symphony orchestra, was premiered by the Montclair State University Symphony featuring Tony Award-winner Chuck Cooper.
Other musical theatre works include music for Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing (with Deborah Brevoort), directed by Molly Smith at Perseverance Theatre and produced by Stuart Ostrow in Houston; and Sanctuary D. C., a rap musical about the homeless in Washington (Helen Hayes Award nomination).
His play-scores have been heard at resident theatres around the country including The Old Globe, The Alliance, and Madison Repertory Theatre. Highlights include the world premiere of Lee Blessing’s Cobb featuring Oscar Winner, Chris Cooper and Delroy Lindo at The Yale Repertory and the U. S. premiere of Nikos Kazantzakis’s Christopher Columbus at the New Federal Theater.
As an actor, Mr. Richards originated the role of Sylvester in the original Broadway production of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Frank Rich’s review of that production (praising Mr. Richards performance among others) was recently included in Ben Brantley’s compilation of the NY Times reviews of 25 productions which defined the 20th century. Mr. Richards also assisted his father, Lloyd Richards, in the origination of 3 other Wilson works.
Mr. Richards is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson and the Frederick Loewe awards. He is associate professor of musical theatre at Montclair State University’s Cali School of Music, and has been a member of the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program since 1997. From 1995-2005, he was a teaching artist with Lincoln Center Institute, where he also authored publications for the Heckscher Foundation Research Center on such various subjects as The Blues, Margaret Leng Tan (The Art of the Toy Piano), and the tangos of Astor Piazzolla.