Broadway Scene Stealers: The Women

By Ben Rimalower
22 Aug 2013

Jackie Hoffman and Kerry Butler
Photo by Paul Kolnik

1. Jackie Hoffman, Hairspray

Jackie Hoffman's performance in Hairspray is the first thing I think of when I hear the words scene stealer. It may be more apt to say Jackie Hoffman's performances in Hairspray as she was cast as a number of different characters including Prudy Pringleton, the gym teacher and the prison matron — I think the casting track is referred to as the "Female Authority Figure" and so they are all strict taskmasters, each infused with a different kind of oppression and repression by Hoffman. And she played them with authority. Jackie Hoffman didn't so much take the stage by storm as by infiltration. She would steal the scene by playing the most plausible, inevitable take on the material, and in the core of that finding her insane inspiration. Hoffman's shrieking voice and rubber face and oddly graceful athlete's body all convene to electrify the comedy in any situation. Hairspray was a fantastic show all around and I've had the pleasure of seeing several other talented women excel in Jackie Hoffman's role, but she was a bandit, halfway out the door before you even realized she'd taken anything. I wish I could go back and see her do it again.

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(Ben Rimalower is the author and star of the critically acclaimed Patti Issues now playing off Off-Broadway. Read Playbill.com's coverage of the solo show here. Visit him at benrimalower.com and follow @benrimalower on Twitter.)