Jerry Zaks

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b. 7 September 1946, Stuttgart, Germany. A director and actor, mainly for the theatre, Zaks was educated at Dartmouth College and Smith College in the USA, before training for the stage with Curt Dempster.…
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b. 7 September 1946, Stuttgart, Germany. A director and actor, mainly for the theatre, Zaks was educated at Dartmouth College and Smith College in the USA, before training for the stage with Curt Dempster. He made his first principal stage appearance in 1974, playing the role of Kenickie in the Broadway revival of Grease. During the next six years, as well as performing in straight theatre in New York and various other US cities, he was seen in the Broadway musicals The 1940s’ Radio Hour (as Neil Tilden, 1978) and the critically acclaimed Tintypes (as Charlie, 1980). Zaks began to direct in the early 80s, but, apart from working on a major US regional tour of Tintypes, and the 1987 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, most of his efforts during that decade were concerned with non-musical productions. He also served as resident director at Lincoln Centre Theatre from 1986-90. During the 90s, Zaks’ reputation as an extremely inventive ‘master comedy strategist’ has been affirmed with his direction of the highly successful revivals of the musicals Guys And Dolls (1992) and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1996) - both staring Nathan Lane. He also helmed the Leiber And Stoller revue Smokey Joe’s Café (1995), Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins (1991, off-Broadway), and pop legend Paul Simon’s debut Broadway show, The Capeman (1998). Late in 1998, he took over as director of the Broadway-bound musical The Civil War, after its tryout at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas. Zaks won a Tony Award for Guys And Dolls, and three others for The House Of Blue Leaves (1986), Lend Me A Tenor (1989), and Six Degrees Of Separation (1991). His other honours have included Outer Circle, Obie, and Drama League awards. In addition, he was the 1994 recipient of the George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre, and in 1998 a concert tribute in his honour was presented at the Ensemble Theatre in New York. In 1996, he made his movie debut, directing Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Leonardo di Caprio, and Robert DeNiro in Marvin’s Room.