Assistant Foodservice Director, Whitsons Culinary Group
Born in: Ridgewood, N.J.
Lives in: Midland Park, N.J.
Education: Studied education at Ramapo College of New Jersey, Mahwah, N.J.
Michael Kazimir, assistant foodservice director for Whitsons Culinary Group at Stryker in Mahwah, N.J., started acting at a young age and couldn’t bear to ever stop. He spoke to FSD about his life in the theater and how it helps him in his job.
“I’ve always been involved in theater. My sister got my brother and me involved when we were younger. We saw her perform in a high school production of “Godspell” and we loved the show. She started teaching us the music, and from that point on we were hooked. My first part was in the eighth-grade play, which was “Girl Crazy.” I have a twin brother and we shared the role in that play. I stayed involved in theater all through high school and college and then ended up in a lot of fun community theater. I also studied at HB Studios in New York for theater, singing and stage fencing.
Some of my favorite roles were when I finally got to play Jesus in “Godspell,” which was really fun. Also, more recently, I played the lead in “Man of La Mancha.” I liked that one because it’s three characters in one: Miguel de Cervantes, Alonzo Quijana and Don Quixote. Throughout the entire show you are moving back and forth between the three characters. It was challenging but a lot of fun to perform.
I’ve had fake mustaches fall off while I’m on stage singing and dancing. I also did have my pants fall down when I was on stage. Thank God it was during a comedy [“Guys and Dolls”]. I had jumped on stage to do kind of a “ta da” moment and my pants fell down. The most serious was when I injured my back while I was on stage during “Man of La Mancha.” I was wielding a giant ladder during a fight scene and I didn’t really think too much of it until the next morning when I was getting ready for the matinee and I couldn’t stand up. I had a cane in my car and I used it to get to the theater to perform. We almost canceled the show because I didn’t have an understudy. All the performers rallied together and somebody gave me a back brace. They taped up my whole lower back and one of the guys fashioned a cane to look like the period. As a group we were able to make it through the show and then afterwards they called an ambulance and I was able to go to the hospital and get a shot of cortisone and make sure nothing else was wrong. That was a pretty intense situation.
I did have to drop out of a production of “Romeo and Juliet” for a different medical reason when I was playing Paris, so that is a missed opportunity for me. If I had my chance I’d like to play Tom Collins in “Rent.” I am also still dying to play the voice of the plant in “Little Shop of Horrors.” I have performed in Shakespeare so I love drama and then the musical theater is just a ton of fun. I’ve done “Guys and Dolls” and “The Fantasticks.” I have played a pirate in “Peter Pan”—just lots of fun roles.
It’s challenging to balance acting with a full-time job, but like anything you love to do, you try to make time to do it. Nowadays I try to do only two shows a year in order to just get my fix. For me, if I spend too much time away from performing then I start to feel a sense of imbalance. At work I recently started doing high-profile catering for doctors and surgeons and that has involved a little bit of showmanship. It’s kind of a way to be on stage all the time, but it doesn’t beat being up there in front of a live audience.
What I love most about acting is the ability to suspend real life for a short amount of time. Whatever else is happening in your life it all goes away for a little while, and as an audience member, hopefully you get to share some joy or sorrow. All those moments don’t come naturally, so you as the actor get to create them.”