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February 04, 1994 - Image 75

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-02-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

En t ertainmen t


knows it is not al-
ways true that
the show must go
on. He learned
that lesson sever-
al years ago,
when he was per-
forming at the
Birmingham The-
"We were just beginning
our first performance of
Kuni-Leml when there was
a storm that wiped out pow-
er in a good third of the
town," recalled Mr. Zagnit,
who is returning to Michigan
Feb. 15-March 6 in Crazy for
You at the Fisher Theatre.
"We delayed our opening un-
til the next day because we
didn't have lights."
In Kumi-Leml, Mr. Zagnit
was cast in an English ver-
sion of a classic Yiddish farce.

In his upcoming engagement,
he will appear in an adapta-
tion of a classic George and
Ira Gershwin musical come-
dy, Girl Crazy.
Mr. Zagnit has been tour-
ing since May in the role of
Bela Zangler, a character
based loosely on "Follies" pro-
ducer Flo Ziegfield.
"They turned him into a
Hungarian impresario so he's
very sophisticated and Euro-
pean," explained the actor,
who grew a goatee and mus-
tache so his makeup routine
would move more quickly.
"At the beginning of the
show, the character comes off
as kind of inflexible, but as
the show goes on, the audi-
ence sees many more sides to
him. He gets funnier and a
little more human so it's a fun
role to do."
Crazy for You features 15

well-known and four re-
cently-discovered songs
written by the Gersh-
"In between numbers
like 'I've Got
Rhythm,' Embraceable
You' and 'Nice Work If
You Can Get It,' the au-
dience will hear songs
like the duet that I do Stuart Zagnit (left) portrays
called 'What Causes Bela Zangler in Crazy For You.
peans coming to America for
That?' " Mr. Zagnit said.
cast in extended regional
the first time.
"I like to think that it's a
theater runs, Mr. Zagnit
"It was kind of a home-
real crowd pleaser because
wishes the characters he has
coming for me because it was
it's completely different from
played on daytime dramas
the story of my family. It was
the rest of the show. Instead
"One Life to Live" and "Lov-
what my grandparents did.
of being a big, splashy num-
ing" had been recurring.
"The odd thing is that I
ber, it's an intimate, almost
"I love seeing the country
don't speak Yiddish, and I
soft-shoe style duet.
because it's really education-
was doing a show half in
"The song gives a com-
al and fascinating, but it does
Yiddish and half in English.
pletely different mood, and
take its toll," explained Mr.
My parents and
it's very personable so
grandparents spoke
it's perfect for two peo-
Yiddish, but no one
ple who are essential-
taught it to me be-
ly alone and contem-
cause they used it as
plative. Then the play
their private lan-
goes back to the big
guage when they
production numbers
didn't want the kids
to hear.
Mr. Zagnit's first
"I had to learn my
production, the one
Yiddish lines phonet-
that launched his in-
ically, but they sat so
terest in an acting ca-
comfortably in my
reer, was in a Sunday
mouth because I had
school Purim play in
heard them for such
which he was cast as
a long time. That
show was magical for
"I was so into wear-
me because I felt so
ing this cape and
connected to my
walking around being
mean," said the actor, who
Zagnit, who considers Crazy
Married to a composer who
grew up in New Jersey. "They
for You among his happiest
is connecting to her roots by
hung me, and I was hooked.
working on a musical revue
"I have a nice home in
"I was in grammar school
of the Jewish experience, Mr.
Brooklyn and a wife (Carolyn
and high school plays and
Zagnit wants to channel some
Sloan) to share it with. Al-
joined drama clubs in high
of his energy to writing for
though she's been able to vis-
school and college (Montclair
TV and films.
it me on the road so we could
State). I got my bachelor's de-
"I want to be more involved
have some vacations while
gree in speech and theater,
in projects than just doing a
I've been working, at this
and the month I graduated I
role," said the 40ish actor.
point, I'm beginning to
was already doing a small
"That goes on past the per-
role on Broadway."
formance and generally out-
It's the sense of home that
Mr. Zagnit has appeared
lives the performer."
on Broadway in Those Were
Crazy for You will be at the
when being cast in plays ex-
the Days, off-Broadway in Lit-
Theatre Feb. 15-March
tle Shop of Horrors, The Ma-
6. Performances are at 8 p.m.
"I did a show called The
jestic Kid and Lucky Stiff and
Tuesdays-Saturdays and 7:30
Golden Land about the im-
around the country in Falset-
p.m. Sundays. Matinees are
migrant experience," Mr. Za-
tos, Tintypes and
at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sun-
gnit recalled. "It followed an
the Woods. The last also
days. For information, call
ensemble of actors who were
brought him to Michigan.
While he has enjoyed being

Stuart Zagnit loves

Crazy For You,

but eight months
on the road is turning his
attention toward home.

Stuart Zagnit





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