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April 22, 1994 - Image 83

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-04-22

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

A Role

Kraig Swartz plays Neil Simon's Eugene
Jerome again in 'Broadway Bound."


n the brief moment
before Kraig Swartz
steps on stage, the actor
feels the same exhil-
aration he experiences
the moment a roller
coaster ride changes
from moving slowly over
a hill to creating a
sudden, free-falling
"They're both fun and scary,"
the entertainer said about
theater and his favorite leisure
• activity.
In Michigan to play the role
of Eugene Jerome in the April
21-May 15 Meadow Brook The-
atre production of Broadway
Bound, Mr. Swartz is particu-
larly excited about appearing
in the Neil Simon comedy.
"I play the youngest of two
brothers who are trying to get
in on the ground floor of the
mass media comedy move-
ment," Mr. Swartz said. "He's
a wise-cracking, thoughtful guy,
and he's very funny.
"I played Eugene almost 10
years ago in a college produc-
tion of Brighton Beach Mem-
oirs, another play in the Neil
Simon trilogy, which also in-
cludes Biloxi Blues. At the time
I played him he was 15, and
now he's 23. So rm growing up
along with Eugene."
Mr. Swartz, 29, had that
earlier role as a student at the
DePaul University Goodman
School of Drama, where he
received his bachelor of fine arts
degree in acting. Since then, he
has appeared in regional
theaters across the country.
He played two roles at the
BoarsHead Theatre in Lansing,
where he was cast in The
Mousetrap and The Lion in
"I've wanted to work at
Meadow Brook for years," he
said. "I auditioned for Terry
Kilburn, and he said he thought
I'd be very good in Broadway
"When I heard they were
having auditions for the role of
Eugene, I called the theater.
The secretary told me Mr. Kil-

bum was out of town and would
not be back until the role was
"I was in Minneapolis doing
a play at the time. When Mr.
Kilburn called me back, he said
he was in Minneapolis, and it
turned out he was staying
about five blocks from me. I
read for him and got the part."
Mr. Swartz, who grew up in
Minnesota, had his first stage
experience in a synagogue pro-
duction in 1972.
"My mom and dad used to be
very active in community the-
ater," he recalled. "My father
was going to be in a 1972
musical revue at the synagogue,
and I wanted to go along with
him to the audition.
"Everybody was going up to
sing with the pianist while the
director watched. They turned
to me and said it was my turn,
and my dad got me to sing 'Do
Re Mi' from The Sound of

He played Eugene
10 years ago.

Music. I got into the revue with
my dad, and ever since, I've
known what I wanted to do."
While attending high school,
Mr. Swartz started to win pro-
fessional roles in regional
theater productions featured in
his home state. At the time he
was deciding which college to
attend, one of the touring actors
told him about the Goodman
School of Drama in Chicago.
After graduation from col-
lege, he decided to remain in the
city, where many Midwest the-
ater companies hold auditions.
"During the '80s, when I was
going to college, Chicago was
becoming a real center for
theater and film," Mr. Swartz
explained. "It was like having
the same opportunities you
would have in New York or Los
Angeles without the frighten-
ing glut of actors.
"It was easy to get an agent
and get noticed by casting di-
rectors, and it was easy to be

Kraig Swartz at Meadow Brook

seen by network personnel."
He had an unusual profes-
sional debut in Chicago.
"I was doing a performance
of a Jim Sherman play, The
God of Isaac, and it was Jim's
first real hit," Mr. Swartz said.
"Jim actually played the lead in
that play. I understudied the
playwright and got to go on for
Other productions in which
he has appeared are Holiday
Memories, The Author's Voice,
The Little Prince and Bent,
which resulted in a Florida The-
atre Critics' Association nomi-
nation for best supporting

performance in 1990.
Mr. Swartz said that most of
the work he gets now is through
people he has worked with or
known in the past.
"One of my very best friends,
Karen Sheridan, is a teacher at
Oakland University," he said.
"She was getting her graduate
degree at the Goodman School
of Drama while I was getting
my undergraduate degree.
'We did several productions
together, and she was actually
the one who informed me that
Meadow Brook would be a great
place to work. So it's really
because of her that I'm here."

During rehearsals, Mr.
Swartz thought about the two
things he likes best about
Broadway Bound: the feeling of
family and the humor.
The actor, who is single, will
have his parents in Michigan
for opening night and will have
more time for family with his
next role, which will take him
back to Minneapolis.
"It's a new play called Fat
Men in Skirts," Mr. Swartz re-
vealed. "It's a dark comedy
about a person being responsi-
ble for his or her actions.



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