US/World News

DC theater leader Victor Shargai dies at 83

(JTA) – Victor Shargai, an actor, costume designer and philanthropist who sponsored the theater scene in Washington, D.C., has died. Shargai, who was Jewish, was the longtime board chair of the Helen Hayes Awards organization, which became the theater Washington group, the website DCtheatrescene reported last week. He was born Sharaga, but changed it to Shargai on the advice of the late Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek, who told his father that “Shargai” was the correct way to spell and pronounce the name, the obituary said. Shargai resembled Marlon Brando in his youth, and took advantage of it. He took tap and acting lessons, and scored a slot on the Eddie Fisher television show. He studied theater at the Old Vic Theatre School in London. One of his classmates, Jerry Silverman (better known as Gene Wilder), suggested he go to Berlin to work with playwright Bertolt Brecht.

While acting, Shargai did costume design on the side until he decided that he liked costume design more than acting. Eventually he came to work with Florence Henderson and Barbra Streisand. At that time Shargai, who was gay, was living in New York with his life partner, John Aniello. Shargai moved to Washington after Aniello’s death in 2006, becoming an interior designer. Shargai served on the boards of the Washington Ballet, Studio Theatre, the Kennedy Center and Signature Theatre, among others.

He is survived by his husband, Craig Pascal.

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