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Jewish actor, playwright featured in Fringe mini-dramas

Lezlie Revelle Zucker

Two members of the Jewish community, Lezlie Revelle Zucker and Larry Goodman, are key participants in the 2017 Fringe Festival this month. Lezlie Zucker, a member of Congregation Beth Torah, has written a play for the show “Blackmail, Murder and Other Ways to Say I Love You,” a series of three short mini-dramas to be presented at the Unicorn Theatre July 22, 24, 26 and 28. Her piece, “Coffee, Tea or Me,” is an intriguing mini-drama about the potential consequences of obsessive love. Beyond penning her play, Zucker is co-directing with Joyce Slater the entire “Blackmail” show.

The 46-year-old Zucker, who lives in Olathe with her husband Dave, has been focusing on her writing career (including novels and music) for more than two decades. She has written some 40 plays to date, two of which have received “Best of Show” recognition at New York play festivals.

“For a long time, I thought I couldn’t write a play unless I lived in New York City,” Zucker said. “Then I took a playwriting course at UMKC and learned that a girl who lives in Kansas could have her plays produced in festivals all over the country.”

Since 2012, Zucker has been involved with Potluck Productions, the only local organization that produces plays written exclusively by area women. Initially, she submitted plays and acted in numerous Potluck play readings held every other First Friday at the Uptown Arts Bar. Eventually, she was asked to become an official member of the group, serving as a producer and occasional director of play readings.

“I hope people come to ‘Blackmail’ (see play schedule) because it’s a very entertaining show with a lot of superb actors,” Zucker said. “Additionally, Potluck and our Fringe show support female writers. Unfortunately, there are limited opportunities for women writers because, in the arts arena, it’s still a man’s world.”

Zucker’s ultimate goal is to be a paid novelist, playwright and singer/songwriter. She is approaching all three: Her plays are regularly produced. She sings original folk/rock songs at coffee houses and festivals, and in August Enneagram Records will release “Time to Ride,” her fourth album. She has recently submitted a novel to agents for consideration.

“I want it all,” Zucker admitted.  

Larry Goodman

Larry Goodman, a member of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah, is a well-known local actor who has roles in two of three plays that are part of the “Blackmail” show at the Fringe Festival. In “Coffee, Tea or Me” by Zucker, he plays Brock, a cunning man with a mysterious past.

“I really like the character because the way the play is written and as an actor I have room to explore and define his essence,” Goodman said.

He has a smaller part (Thomas) in “Love and Animosity,” which Goodman describes as the “only male in the play who isn’t cheating on his wife or partner.”

The 58-year-old Goodman has been acting since he was a youngster. He was in his first play, “Chicken Little” at the Jewish Community Center, when he was 5 or 6. As a youth, he performed with the Jack and Jill Players and later studied Theatre at Avila. As an adult, he has performed at most theatres in the Kansas City area. His most current favorite role was the son in “Ashes and Boxes,” a 2016 Fringe Festival production.

Although Goodman loves acting, he says he never intended to make a profession of it. In fact, he has for years owned Computer Solutions, a full-service computer repair company in Mission, Kansas. Nonetheless, much of his free time is devoted to acting, including frequently performing in Potluck Productions’ First Friday Play Readings.

“I like being part of new works by playwrights, all of whom have different writing styles,” he said. 

Goodman urges people to try to catch a performance of “Blackmail.”

“It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”