Review Roundup: Jackie Hoffman Returns to the Stage in FRUMA-SARAH (WAITING IN THE WINGS)

FRUMA-SARAH (WAITING IN THE WINGS) plays through July 25 at the Cell.

By: Jul. 09, 2021
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Review Roundup: Jackie Hoffman Returns to the Stage in FRUMA-SARAH (WAITING IN THE WINGS)

This summer, Jackie Hoffman stars in the Off-Broadway Premiere of E. Dale Smith's FRUMA-SARAH (WAITING IN THE WINGS). Directed by Braden M. Burns, Hoffman stars alongside Kelly Kinsella.

Weighed down by the reality of her current situation and yards of rented cheesecloth, aging community theater star Ariana Russo sits backstage awaiting her entrance as Fruma-Sarah, the screeching deceased wife of Lazer Wolf. Tethered to the fly system overhead, she prepares to navigate her hour-long exile to stage left alone when she meets Margo, a feisty substitute fly captain for the night. Set in real time, while a production of Fiddler on the Roof is happening onstage, the wait begins to wear on Ariana, exposing the deep cracks in her bombastic facade. This love letter to theater explores themes of isolation, being stuck in your situation, and what happens when you are no longer seen by the people around you. Sometimes to feel alive, you have to play a ghost.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Alexis Soloski, New York Times: The sour 70-minute show is directed by Braden M. Burns, who is also credited with the original concept. Are the jokes cheap? They seem heavily discounted. Its politics, while ostensibly liberal, skew conservative. And that's fine. Or it could be. Likely not everyone in Roselle Park votes a progressive ticket. But who thought a zinger about the "pronoun police" should make it into previews? As exciting as it is to be back in a room of people mostly laughing together, it is still worth asking who is doing the laughing and who is being laughed at. Like a very tall boxer, the play mostly punches down. It also gives Margo next to nothing to do.

Adam Feldman, Time Out NY: The new play Fruma-Sarah offers a rare chance to see Hoffman center stage-even if, ironically enough, she's stuck in the wings the whole time. In E. Dale Smith's 75-minute comedy, Hoffman stars as a cantankerous real-estate agent and community-theater actress named Ariana Russo, who is playing a tiny role in her New Jersey company's latest production of Fiddler on the Roof: the vindictive ghost Fruma-Sarah, a shrieking and pearl-clutching harridan who flies onstage in the musical's nightmare sequence. But her big entrance and rapid exit come an hour into Fiddler's first act, so Ariana has plenty of time to loiter offstage and loudly bend the ear of the strapping Margo (Kelly Kinsella), the patient substitute crew member in charge of her flying apparatus.

David Finkle, New York Stage Review: Here she is at the cell, that compact off-Broadway venue, doing her absolute best in a Fiddler on the Roof spin. She's playing the Fiddler character Fruma-Sarah in E. Dale Smith's Fruma-Sarah (Waiting in the Wings), a just-about-entirely-successful 80-minute two-hander. More precisely, the busy Hoffman, also racking up praised television appearances these days, isn't playing Fruma-Sarah. She's playing Ariana Russo, a Roselle Park, New Jersey actress and real estate broker, who's playing Fruma-Sarah in a Roselle Park Theatrical Society revival of the beloved musical. (Or is Ariana not from the very real Roselle Park, New Jersey but from nearby Maplewood? This reviewer is uncertain.)

Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater:"Fruma-Sarah (Waiting in the Wings)," at the Cell Theater through July 25, begins as an affectionate poke at theater folk, offering nearly everything theatergoers returning to live, in-person theater could hope for - above all, Jackie Hoffman. Her role in this backstage comedy that cleverly riffs off of "Fiddler on the Roof" seems tailor-made for her caustic comic delivery. But by the end of this 75-minute play by E. Dale Smith, "nearly everything" feels a tad too much.

Photo Credit: Hunter Canning


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