Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fruma Sarah

This post is just for fun.  
I wrote this several years ago, after playing Fruma Sarah 
in a production of Fiddler on the Roof.  
We relived the adventure outside in the alley during intermission, 
with almost nightly embellishments, 
until it became inevitable that it would wind up on paper.
Unfortunately, this photo was taken without the makeup.
For perspective, I'm standing next to a 6' 7" Tevye. 

The program calls my character “Fruma Sarah, Lazar Wolf’s dead wife,” but Steve just calls me Arms.  He is Legs.  Fruma, you see, is bigger than life.  Literally.  Each night I climb on Leg’s shoulders and together we whirl and howl our way around the stage for two minutes.  “Just where do you mount up?” we were asked.  I vainly try to suggest more genteel terminology.  How do I explain wrapping my legs around some guy and throwing my dress over his head in terms that are family friendly? 

He wears a tank top, white tights and ballet slippers (size 13, on size 14 feet) and a petticoat.  I have a matching petticoat, loosely tied around my hips.  Spandex tights are my attempt at preserving some sense of modesty, if not dignity.  (When looking at the blouse I wear the rest of the show and musing to no one in particular, “who got make-up all over my costume?,” Legs replied from a distance, “if it’s your tights, it was probably me.”  So much for dignity.)  My purple, flame embellished gown has a lace inset designed to allow little flashes of light to guide Leg’s blinded steps.  Less noticeable is the purple shirt I wear underneath so the sheerness of the lace is less obvious.  The shirt actually performs a dual function, concealing the bath puff stuffed, low slung lavender bra (Dolly Parton would be proud) that works to keep Fruma’s anatomy protruding at the appropriate places and not primarily from Leg’s head, which could make Fruma look strangely pregnant.  On top of it all are long stands of disco beads/pearls, and a waist length red wig that I tease to Tina Turner proportions each night.  Add a black and white skeleton-like face that has elicited such comments from the cast as, “isn’t it nice you don’t have to wear make-up in this scene,” and Fruma is ready to rumble.

Every performance goes something like this:  The song begins, and all other cast members enter the stage.  Then Legs sets a bench down in the wings and sits.  I climb onto the bench, straddling Legs, holding my wadded up gown and beads in one hand so I can loosen the tie on my petticoat with the other.  I scoot up behind him, and throw the petticoat over his head.  He then ties it under his chin.  We’re hoping to disguise all the knees and elbows going on down there so Fruma doesn’t look like something from Alien.  I half stand, half squat behind Legs, now that we are dressed in the same petticoat, but trying to minimize the time he needs to support my full weight on his shoulders.  In time, I assume the position, slide forward, and we stand.  I wrap my feet behind his back for balance.  I drop the gown over his head, trying to make sure the lace panel is somewhere in front of an eye or two, and let the beads fall.  We work our way past the side curtains toward our entrance position, and I’m so used to shuffling around solo in the long dress backstage that I instinctively lift my/our gown as we walk so he won’t trip on it. 

The final step is to wait for the music cue as I fluff my wig one final time, mentally race through my lyrics, and try to feel appropriately dead.  On stage we are one, at least as long as I remember not to wave my flowing sleeves in front of the lace panel during any portions of the song requiring foot movement.  The moment the final howl is heard, we are back in the wings, and I quickly grab the dress up and over his head as we make our way to a backstage table for the dismount.  There is sweating and panting and struggling with getting clothes off quickly.  Legs has been known to light a cigarette just thinking about it.  

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