“You're out of the woods,
You're out of the dark, you're out of the night,
Step into the sun, step into the light.
March up to that gate and bid it open - open.”
ALLENSTOWN- Michael Zingarelli, 66, of Allenstown, NH, died at 10:05 AM on Thursday, September 9, 2021 in quiet comfort at the VNA Hospice House in Concord, NH following a July 9 diagnosis of HS1 viral encephalopathy. He made his final exit holding the hand of his beloved husband Michael Curtiss, wrapped in the love of family and countless friends, with Judy Garland singing softly in the background.
As Glinda, The Good Witch in THE WIZARD OF OZ, was known to say: “Why, you had the power to go home all along.” And that’s what happened: after interminable days of dealing with a failing body and mind, MZ found his power, and he went.
Michael, also known as “MZ”, “Little Mike”, and “Zing”, was born in Worcester, MA on September 22, 1954, the youngest of 5 children, to Gaetano and Lucy Zingarelli. He attended Worcester schools, graduating from Quinsigamond Community College with a degree in Accounting. MZ spent most of his professional career in the tech industry, starting with Digital in the 1970s, and culminating as a senior software buyer for BAE Systems in Nashua.
Music and theatre were his first loves: MZ started out in supporting roles and chorus parts, performing for the Firefighters annual benefit at Mechanics Hall, the Foothills Theatre, and other companies in and around the greater Worcester area. When not performing, he taught organ at Music Towne in Worcester, and in between shows, teaching and tending bar at some of Worcester’s legendary LGBTQIA+ watering holes, he made the commute from Worcester to Boston by train weekly to take classes in ballet and tap.
When MZ relocated to New Hampshire, he became deeply involved in the community theatre scene, not only performing but choreographing for companies such as Majestic Theatre, Music and Drama Company, and the Manchester Community Theatre Players, to name but a few. He considered his depiction of Marcellus Washburne in THE MUSIC MAN at MCTP to be one of his crowning achievements. On occasion, he was privileged to lead classes in jazz, tap and show dance for actors who wanted to add to their resumes.
As health challenges caught up with him, he made the transition to backstage roles, particularly enjoying the sourcing and fabrication of props. His realistic fake food, and his uncanny ability to cook pasta to the right consistency to be thrown against a wall and made to stick every night for a production of THE ODD COUPLE is still the stuff of legend.
MZ was an unabashed fan of anything to do with MGM’s 1939 musical THE WIZARD OF OZ, Hollywood’s Golden Age, The Three Stooges, Broadway musicals from the 1930s to the 1980s, and Judy Garland, who personified all of the things he loved. One of his most prized possessions was an original poster from Judy’s 1961 appearances at Carnegie Hall. He was thrilled when his friend Stephanie snuck him into the vast warehouses of the Hooker-Howe Costume Company in Haverhill, MA to show him one of the original Munchkin costumes from the movie, which HH had acquired from MGM in a costume auction after WWII. Had the costume not mysteriously gotten “lost” later, MZ would have found a way to steal it.
Offstage, Michael preferred to stick close to home, working on his flower gardens- daylilies and Asiatic lilies were a particular favorite- as well as his vegetable plots, growing tomatoes of every variety as well as any vegetable that could later be canned. He loved his house in the woods on the back side of Bear Brook State Park, his yard, his cats, and his husband, Michael C (“Big Mike” to his “Little Mike”), and he loved not only being home, but making it a home- decorating for every holiday (especially Christmas), doing crafts like counted cross-stitch and crochet, making over 300 masks to give away during the pandemic, canning vegetables, trying and sharing recipes, spoiling a series of cats, and enjoying a nightly cocktail hour.
His talents were many, but if you were to ask, those who knew Michael would tell you that his greatest gift was kindness. He had a gentle demeanor which radiated outward and captured all who came within its orbit. He took a genuine interest in everyone he met and befriended, and was bothered by the idea of anyone who was unhappy, doing everything he could to cheer them up or make things better, by cracking a corny joke or a bad pun, lending a sympathetic ear, or just being present for others when they needed it.
And it worked. He was not only liked and respected, he was loved, and his smiling presence will be keenly missed by all who were privileged to have been a part of his life.
MZ goes from this world ahead of those he held most dear: his husband of 25 years, Michael J. Curtiss; their “kids”, cats Linus and Lucy; sisters Grace Zingarelli, Annmarie Comforti and Donna Landry; brother Tom Zingarelli; their spouses, numerous cousins, nieces and nephews; his best friend, Nikki Kane, and those he came to cherish through his pursuit of many years of dance, theatre, crafts, gardening, a thousand other passions which made him a true Renaissance man.
MZ will be cremated, wearing his favorite Hawaiian shirt, wrapped in the blue pineapple afghan he hand-crocheted, holding pics of his husband, his cats and his gardens, with a dab of cologne to send him on his way. Later, his cremains will be scattered- around his cherished home, in his vegetable and flower beds, over the graves of his departed cats Bunnage, Simon and Charmaine, and in several other spots special to him and his husband.
MZ wanted no funeral or memorial: instead, a bit down the road, he wished for a happy gathering of those he knew and loved, with cocktails, food, cocktails, laughter, cocktails, and the sharing of precious memories. Did we mention cocktails?
Memorial donations in Michael’s name can be made to the passions he held closest to his heart: theatre, animals, food and the freedom to be who you are. Please be as generous as you can to local community theatre companies, animal shelters, soup kitchens and LGBTQIA+ support groups.
Your local hospice deserves your love too: they’re doing yeoman’s work, in a world that has only started to appreciate what they do. And if there’s a support group for bad puns and corny jokes, add them to the list.
Better yet, get involved: the best way to keep alive the memory of those who aren’t with us any longer is to step up and carry on what they were doing, or to do other good work, inspired by their example. Whether boots, tap shoes or ruby slippers, we need them all on the ground. Lace up.
MZ’s family thanks the excellent medical team at Concord Hospital and the Granite VNA Hospice for their compassionate and exemplary care of MZ in his final days, and for the many, many friends and family who reached out to offer support.
“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Assisting the family is the Petit-Roan Funeral Home in Pembroke. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit www.petitroan.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Michael A. Zingarelli, please visit our floral store.