Anchored in Suzy Cato’s favourite childhood memories are the Sunday afternoon musicals she used to watch with her family.
Growing up in the small town of Kaikohe during the 1970s, she and her sister would plonk themselves in front of the television as classic Broadway musicals such as Oklahoma! and South Pacific lit up the screen.
Suzy’s mum stood at the back doing the weekly ironing, singing along with her captivated daughters.
“I remember I’d turn to watch Mum sing and the tears would be streaming down her face. Then I’d get caught up in all the emotion of it as well,” recalls the kids’ entertainer.
“I loved the old-school glitz and glamour – the whole Hollywood vibe – so from then on I always dreamt of a role in a musical, even though there wasn’t much opportunity to get involved in musical theatre in the Far North.”
Next month, Suzy’s childhood dream comes true. And she’s fizzing to step into the dual roles of The Starkeeper and narrator at Opera on the Harbour’s production of Carousel.
“When the director of New Zealand Opera reached out to ask if I’d be interested in being a part of it, I replied, ‘You do know my level of singing ability, don’t you?’” laughs the bespectacled broadcaster.
“This role is quite different to what many audiences will expect from me and I’m excited to be seen in a different light. This is set to be a really fun event – audiences can expect a carnival atmosphere, with entertainment and celebrations planned for each performance.”
The bubbly 53-year-old – who has entertained New Zealand children with TV shows such as The Early Bird Show, You and Me and Suzy’s World – is grateful to now have a whole new generation of fans, thanks to appearing on Home Learning TV during recent lockdowns.
On her YouTube channel, she regularly reads bedtime stories, as well as producing Suzy & Friends, her children’s radio programme which is run on 27 regional stations across the weekend.
“Being in broadcasting for as long as I have, I occasionally feel like Mrs Doubtfire hauling up her support stockings,” she jokes. “When I was on TV as often as I was back in the ’90s, I felt like all eyes were on me and I was far more concerned with what other people thought of me.
“But once you have children, you have to get over yourself,” says the mum of Riley, 16, and Morgan, 14.
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